Four of the five members of the Capital School District's Board of Education, plus district Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas, got a progress update on the status of the new Dover High School May 28.
Board member Brian Lewis was unable to attend the meeting.
Work on the 290,000-square-foot, $114 million project began in May 2011, and was projected to take approximately three years to complete. The building is on a site on Route 8, just west of the city.
The evening's meeting was called to ensure board members and the public had the most up-to-date information available, said board President Kay Deitz-Sass.
"We just wanted to make sure we were on budget and to see where we were on the schedule," Sass said.
At the meeting, EDiS project manager Brad Cowen said construction is on schedule, with plans to turn the building over to the district in May 2014.
"Our goal is to have the building 100 percent complete and ready for move in and occupation through the summer period so you're well under way when school begins," he said. "We don't want to hand you the key in August. That's not the way to do it."
"That's good for us, because we want to get some of the bumps in the road worked out before the students arrive in August," Sass said afterward.
There were only minor setbacks during the winter months due to weather, and the construction schedule was adjusted to allow inside work to be done on those days, Cowen said.
All of the bids for the building and grounds, to include the stadium and ball fields, have been let, and the district soon will be putting out bids for technology packages, to include computers and smart boards, as well as furniture and signage, he said.
However, overall costs for the project, Cowen noted, are "coming right down to the wire."
Although still within budget, there are remaining bids that need to go out while ensuring costs for those bids remain within the spending plan.
That may prove difficult, Cowen said.
"Those are going to come with some possibly tough decisions about what's in and what's out," Cowen warned.
Board member Matthew Lindell wondered if the amount in the contingency fund, approximately $1 million, was sufficient for the rest of the project.
It is, Cowen said.
"That's not unusual," he said. "We'd like to have a little more, but it's not unusual."
Cowen said a loop road for school buses has been put on the back burner until it's determined if there's enough money left to build it.
In addition, the state's Department of Transportation has approved the installation of a caution light students can trigger at the school's east entrance that will allow students walking to and from school to cross Route 8 as needed, Sass said. Board members said they'd heard, but had not yet confirmed that state money may be available to pay for the light and possibly some sidewalks on the north side of Route 8.
Page 2 of 2 - Sass welcomed that possibility, primarily because the district already has spent approximately $4 million the meet DelDOT and other state mandates.
Lead architect Karl Krienen of ABHA Architects, Wilmington, gave board members an overview of floor plans and architectural renderings for the project.
One recently changed aspect of the plans was that ABHA was able to restore a room dedicated to the school's Junior ROTC students as well as a dance and strings room, Krienen said. That was in keeping with a desire to get as much out of the building's square footage as possible, he added.
Currently, the emphasis is on completing the academic building, in the front of the school, and then moving back to the rear wings that house the gymnasium, dining areas and so forth. Some of that area is slightly behind schedule, Krienen said.
The academic area will feature half-size lockers that will be spread throughout the building, spaced so that they allow natural lighting. The common areas also will be open to various offices so school personnel will have the opportunity to observe the students.
The cafeteria will seat more than 600 students at a time and will feature different sized tables and varied seating, Krienen said. There also is a smaller cafeteria section that can be closed off for testing or presentations, he said, well as an outdoor terrace.
The gym will have 360-degree seating, can seat up to 2,500 people and may be configured to hold graduation ceremonies indoors. Like many other areas in the school, they gym features large windows to let in natural light.
The auditorium will feature tiered seating for up to 960 people, and the library, which will be in the rotunda of the main building, also has large windows looking out over the front of the school.
Sass said afterward one of her primary concerns was that the school's technology infrastructure be as current as possible.
"I want to make sure we put the best in that building, that we don't have outdated technology in there before we even open the doors," she said.
Thomas said he is happy with the progress being made so far.
"This is a very large project, and we're moving on schedule," he said. "We're very pleased at this stage of the game."
"I'm very pleased," she said. "The building is coming together, ahead of time and on budget. It's a beautiful facility and it should definitely accommodate our needs for the next 50 years. It's going to be standing long after I'm gone."