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Dover Post
  • Construction at Dover High School on pace, despite prior concerns

  • Construction of the new Dover High School on Del. Route 8 is currently on schedule and will be ready to open for the 2014-2015 school year, according to Capital School District Superintendent Michael Thomas.
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  • Construction of the new Dover High School on Del. Route 8 is currently on schedule and will be ready to open for the 2014-2015 school year, according to Capital School District Superintendent Michael Thomas.
    That announcement was made this week after city officials raised concerns about whether the district and its construction management firm EDiS would be able to complete certain requirements that must be met before the city will issue a certificate of occupancy.
    Those concerns were raised after EDiS requested that the city planning office issue a temporary certificate of occupancy by today so teachers could begin moving furniture and supplies into their classrooms at the new school.
    Ann Marie Townshend, the city’s director of planning and community development, responded to that request in a letter dated June 4 that included a list of items that would have to be finished before a temporary certificate of occupancy could be issued.
    “I am growing increasingly concerned that there is no contingency plan for what will happen if the school is not ready to open in early August,” Townshend wrote in the letter. “At this point, as there are many open items that must be addressed before the full opening of the school, I recommend that the Capital School District develop a contingency plan. Throughout this process the City of Dover is eager to work with the Capital School District to keep this project moving forward efficiently, but the site must be operational and code compliant before it can safely be open to the public.”
    On Friday, the district was able to show that they had completed some of the items Townshend noted in her letter, according to city and district officials.
    Townshend subsequently gave the district permission to begin moving furniture and classroom supplies into the building, although a certificate of occupancy still has not been issued. Her authorization means only district staff and contractors can access the three-story, 290,000-square-foot building, Townshend said Monday. Teachers cannot receive help from family or friends and any classrooms that are still unfished have to be cordoned off to prevent staff from entering them.
    Brian Lewis, the vice president of the Capital school board, said the situation at the construction site of the new Dover High should never have gotten to the point where Townshend’s letter needed to be sent.
    “We have been riddled on the delays and missteps of this project back and forth,” he said. “There are some issues the board needs to look at as far as seeing this project through in a timely manner or making some sort of contingency plan if a delay is evident.”
    The district will still need to acquire a temporary certificate of occupancy before Aug. 11 when the school’s incoming freshmen are slated to visit the building as part of the Jump Start program, which provides the new high schoolers a chance to start the school year before the upper classmen arrive.
    Page 2 of 2 - Several items must still be completed before that happens, Townshend said.
    The primary issue is the entrance on the east side of the site, which will provide access from Route 8 to the road that runs behind Dover High to the school’s west entrance off Dover High Drive.
    Work on the entrance has yet to being, although plans have been approved by the city and the Delaware Department of Transportation.
    Thomas said a pre-construction meeting on that project would be held today.
    “If [the start of construction is] approved, and we have every reason to believe it will be approved, construction will begin on the east entrance on Thursday,” he said, adding that the project should be finished in time, barring any extended weather events.
    The city also is requiring the installation of a crosswalk signal, that would allow students to push a button to trigger a red light on Route 8 before the school can open, according to Thomas.
    “We want to make sure there is safe access to and from the school for people who are driving, riding the bus, walking or biking,” Townshend said. “However they’re accessing the school, we want to make sure it’s safe and that traffic flow is efficient and safe.”
    DelDOT is responsible for installing the light. But the district has two separate contingency plans to ensure that students who walk to and from school from neighboring housing developments can make it safely to school, if the work is not done in time, Thomas said.
    “We will either employ a police officer to be at the crosswalk to help students cross or we are also prepared to run a temporary bus service to pick up students who live across the street and deliver them to school,” he said.
    Townshend said the school would be allowed to open if some minor aspects of the project remain to be finished by the start of the new school year, such as small sections of fencing and landscaping work. In that case, city inspectors would periodically visit the school to ensure the district is working to complete them.
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