The new middle/high school facility on Marietta’s campus has hit its first construction snag. The building, which during post-COVID construction had amazingly stayed on schedule, has experienced its first substantial delay caused by a three-month hold-up in the production of I-span beams used in the ceiling and roof.
The school has now been told by the construction company that the original projection of moving in during the week of Spring Break will be pushed back to the end of the school year.
“Of course, we’re disappointed that the class of 2023 will not be housed in the new building,” said Superintendent Brandi Naylor, “But in a project of this scope to have only one major delay is amazing. To be only three months off, there are a lot of people with large construction projects who are in a lot worse shape.”
The revised construction schedule allows for the project to be completely dried in in March so that lines for internet, phone, and other services can be run. Additionally, all fiber optic lines currently run under the old high school, which will be demolished and reconfigured into parking, so those lines must also be moved.
“That may be one of the most daunting tasks we face because all of the internet and telephone service lines run through the old high school,” Naylor explained. “The new building needs to be completely ready to go so we can switch that over during the span of a weekend and we don’t lose any time. Our district is fortunate to have our tech director, Nate Jackson, who not only understands the technical aspect but also the educational implications this move will have.”
The new facility is to be finished at the end of May, so the district has been told to be packed up and ready to go at the end of the school year so that moving can be done during the first two weeks of June, hopefully with no disruption to the school year, likely a better scenario than the original prediction.
“If the new timeline holds true, it would give us time in the summer to get the old building demo done and the parking lot in by the beginning of the next school year,” Naylor continued. “We’re just crossing our fingers that everything falls just right to give us time to get things done.”
As many times as the school has published the contents of the facility under construction, there is lingering confusion. The new facility includes 39 classrooms and office spaces. Additionally, there are spaces that will be shared between middle and high school students, like STEM and science labs which also house saferooms, a warming kitchen and serving area, and a commons area that expands the gym lobby and connects it to the new facility.
Many people have questioned whether a new gym is included in the project. The answer to that question: no.
“A gym was never part of the original plan,” stated Naylor. “It was never mentioned. For one thing, to build a new gym of the caliber we would like to have would’ve doubled the original cost of the facility. But the main reason is that academics had to come first.”
At the time of the bond proposal, additional classrooms were desperately needed. Just adding some classrooms to the old high school could’ve partially solved that problem. However, lacking space to build enough classroom space and addressing ADA compliance in the entire building would’ve left the district with a hefty price tag, as well as the continued maintenance concerns in the 50-year-old building.
“We would’ve loved to have a new gym, and we plan to have that sometime in the future, but academics is our priority,” Naylor said.
The district has a long-term plan that addresses the need for all facilities, sports included, but there are several factors that must be factored into that plan, the tax burden of the district’s patrons among them.
“Our board wants our students to have the best facilities they can, but we always have to remember that we are accountable to the property owners in our district, and we don’t want to raise taxes.” Naylor concluded. “Keeping all those needs in mind, it’s a balancing act.”