Cobb opening new schools for the new year
by Lindsay Field
July 24, 2012 01:42 AM | 7854 views | 8 8 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mableton Elementary School is one of 19 major construction projects under way this summer in the Cobb County School District. Above: The school's courtyard features outdoor theater seating. The new 149,000-square-foot facility was constructed behind the current school off Church Street by Nix-Fowler Constructors Inc. of Mableton. <br> Photo by Lindsay Field
Mableton Elementary School is one of 19 major construction projects under way this summer in the Cobb County School District. Above: The school's courtyard features outdoor theater seating. The new 149,000-square-foot facility was constructed behind the current school off Church Street by Nix-Fowler Constructors Inc. of Mableton.
Photo by Lindsay Field
slideshow
Construction continues at Wheeler High School in Marietta. <br> Photo by Laura Moon
Construction continues at Wheeler High School in Marietta.
Photo by Laura Moon
slideshow
MARIETTA — The Cobb County School District will be wrapping up a number of high-cost construction projects over the summer and continue working on another group of them scheduled to open in 2013-14 with a total cost of $153 million.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Chris Ragsdale said 17 major summer construction projects are on track to open by the time school starts on Aug. 13, with the exceptions of McCleskey and Garrett middle schools.

“Everything except the two I mentioned are on schedule,” he said, adding that costs have held steady. “It’s pretty much as we anticipated.”

The school board awarded the Garrett and McCleskey contracts to Hensler and Beavers General Contractors of Doraville. McCleskey was awarded in March 2011 with an $8.5 million ticket price, about $3.5 million, or 29 percent, under budget, and Garrett for $7.8 million, which is about $1.8 million, or 19 percent, under budget.

McCleskey renovations should be done before school starts, and Garrett is scheduled to be done in the fall.

“We aren’t saying (McCleskey and Garrett) won’t be finished, but we are concerned with the schedule completion date,” Ragsdale said.

He wouldn’t say why the projects are delayed but said it’s his intent to have the classrooms ready for the first day of school.

Despite these delays, McCleskey Principal Claire Lyons said the contractors and district SPLOST staff have been “very supportive.”

“I would do this again, knowing the end results and what this project provides,” she said. “Teachers, students and the community are so excited about the addition and the upgrades that this is providing for us.”

Improvements at the school include three new science classrooms off each grade’s wing; a fine arts building with a band, orchestra and choral room; a new cafeteria and kitchen; parking; HVAC; an emergency generator; instrument lockers; bathrooms; and flooring.

“I’m really excited about the new fine arts building and science rooms,” she said. “We’re getting caught up to where all the other middle schools are in Cobb County. It’s just giving us so much more than what we’re already doing. It’s the perfect time to make big changes to support everything that’s coming along instructionally.”

Ragsdale said this summer is a big improvement over last year, when a number of projects came down to the wire.

“This year’s group of contractors have really stepped up to the plate, and the district’s SPLOST staff is doing a good job of helping manage the projects,” he said.

Some of the other bigger projects that remain on schedule are at Wheeler and Pebblebrook high schools and Mableton and Clarkdale elementary schools.

The school board approved the $19.7 million contract with Hogan Construction Group of Norcross for work at Wheeler unanimously last August. It includes demolishing the existing building off Holt Road in east Cobb, which was constructed in 1964, and building a new facility where the parking lot once stood.

Ragsdale said the entire project should be completed by the summer of 2014, but the district will consider moving teachers and students into the new facility earlier as rooms are completed.

“We could utilize the building if it is ready, but we would want to eliminate any interruption to instruction time that it may take,” he said.

The Wheeler project is $2.6 million, or 15 percent, over budget.

Pebblebrook Principal Zinta Perkins said she is very pleased with her school’s $2.5 million renovation project.

“The voters of Cobb who approved SPLOST III would be pleased,” she said. “We are getting some much-needed renovations, and it’s going very smoothly. We have a great contactor and project manager. They’ve been wonderful to work with.”

The project, which is $600,000, or 31 percent, over budget, was awarded to A.M. Adams Building Corporation of Lilburn in February. It includes renovating two classrooms and the guidance office; building a culinary arts lab; replacing the irrigation system; adding skylights; HVAC work; electrical upgrades; and fencing the area around the theater.

Like many of the other major projects, it’s scheduled to be done before the Aug. 13 school start date.

By Friday, pretty much everything should be complete except the culinary arts lab, which Perkins said should be done around Sept. 7.

The new Mableton Elementary, which is being built behind the current school off Church Street in Mableton, is costing the district about $17.9 million. It’s coming in around $32,000, or less than 1 percent, under budget.

Nix-Fowler Constructors Inc. got the contract in March 2011. The new building will have 61 classrooms, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria with a stage and will feature the only elementary school courtyard with theater-type seating in the district.

It will house current Mableton students and be the new home of Sky View Elementary students. Their school closed at the end of May because of the south Cobb redistricting approved by the school board in February.

One of the students transferring from Sky View is 9-year-old Jeffery Williams. He will be in fourth grade next year.

His great-grandmother, Berdine Quiller, said she was hoping Jeffery would finish up at Sky View like his older brother, but with so many teachers and students coming from Sky View to Mableton, she’s comfortable with the move.

“Last year was one of his best years, so we’re hoping that carries over,” she said. “He loves new things though, so he’s excited about it.”

The district is also rebuilding Austell’s Clarkdale, which was destroyed in the September 2009 flood.

Marjorie Bickerstaff, who has been the principal at Clarkdale for the last 21 years, said the rebuild is going “great.”

“I have no doubt that we will be ready come day one,” she said.

The school is hosting an open house Aug. 4 from 10 a.m. to noon for the public to see the new school.

“I really want my parents and children to be here to tour the building,” she said. “They have waited as we have waited to get this building and they are so proud.”

Clarkdale students have been attending Compton Elementary for the last three years. The schools are about three miles apart.

The school board approved the 53-classroom facility in March 2011. The $14.7 million contract, which is $2.3 million, or 18 percent, over budget, was awarded to Carroll Construction Company of Gainesville.

Major construction is also under way at these schools:

n Smyrna area elementary: $19.6 million contract with Carroll Daniel Construction of Gainesville. The project is $1.8 million, or 9 percent, over budget and should be complete next summer. It includes building a 61-classroom elementary school in the downtown Smyrna area, is based on the city’s strict redevelopment guidelines and is environmentally friendly.

It will also be home to Brown Elementary School student after their school closes down next spring because of redistricting.

n Lassiter High: $14.9 million contract with Womack, Lewis and Smith Inc. of Cartersville. The project is $2 million, or 16 percent, over budget and should be complete this summer. It includes adding a performing arts center and administrative offices.

n Harrison High: $14.5 million contract with Swofford Construction of Austell. The project is $700,000, or 5 percent, over budget and should be completed by the fall of 2013. It includes adding a ninth-grade center, a cafeteria and choral and band rooms.

Ragsdale said Harrison’s construction project is the last multi-million construction project the board will approve for SPLOST III.

n Simpson Middle: $8.6 million contract with Nix-Fowler Construction Inc. The project is $3.7 million, or 30 percent, under budget and should be complete this summer. It includes adding ninth-grade classrooms; parking spaces; band, orchestra and choral rooms; a cafeteria and kitchen; renovating teacher work rooms and science classes; replacing instrument lockers, HVAC work; an emergency generator; a fire alarm system and theater lighting.

n Pine Mountain Middle: $6.2 million contract with Hensler and Beavers General Contractors. The project is $7.1 million, or 53 percent, under budget and should be complete this summer. It includes a nine-classroom addition, renovations of the cafeteria; kitchen, administrative and guidance offices; installation of a fire alarm system; and a ceiling replacement.

n Daniell Middle: $4.1 million contract with Merit Construction Company of Doraville. The project is $130,000, or 3 percent, over budget and scheduled to be done before school starts back. It includes renovating the kitchen, parking lot, canopy and irrigation system and the replacement of instrument lockers, HVAC, plumbing, fire alarm system and lighting.

n Sope Creek Elementary: $3.4 million contract with A.M. Adams Building Corporation. The project is $400,000, or 10 percent, under budget and should be complete this summer. It includes a 12-classroom addition; renovations to the administrative offices; a kitchen; a roof; HVAC work; a fire alarm system; an emergency generator; lighting; and painting.

n Walton High: $3 million contract with Amacher Brothers Construction of Atlanta. The project is $870,000, or 7 percent, over budget and should be complete next spring. It includes renovating the science labs, an irrigation system, clocks, lighting and paving.

n Awtrey Elementary: $2.3 million contract with Thurgood Construction Inc. of Decatur. The project is $262,000, or 13 percent, over budget and scheduled to be finished this summer. It includes adding walkways to the building.

n Hightower Trail Middle: $2.3 million contract with Swofford Construction. The project is $1.1 million, or 32 percent, under budget and should be complete this summer. It includes renovating the auditorium seats, HVAC work and lighting.

n Nickajack Elementary: $1.2 million contract with Classic Plains Construction of Marietta. The project is $618,000, or 34 percent, under budget and should be complete this fall. It includes an eight-classroom addition; parking; replacing of flooring and ceiling tiles; HVAC work; and an emergency generator.

n Keheley Elementary: $1 million contract with SouthCore Construction of Kennesaw. The project is $397,000, or 37 percent, over budget and should be complete this summer. It includes resurfacing the playground, renovating portions of the building and replacing windows.

n Russell Elementary: $683,000 contract with T.A. Milsap Construction Inc. of Marietta. The project is $166,00, or 32 percent, over budget and should be complete this summer. It includes renovating the playground equipment and installing fire alarms and clocks.
Comments
(8)
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The $ don't add up
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July 25, 2012
Common Sense -- You hit the nail on the head and the article's math doesn't line up with CCSD SPLOST figures:

The article listed the schools with improvements before the start of the calendar school year. The math in dollar amounts and percentages did not make sense.

In an effort to validate the costs for projects listed in the MDJ, I reviewed the CCSD web on SPLOST III projects and compared the 1) original budget vs. 2) Cash Flow report from Q3 2011 (most recent available).

The math does not line up!! Using CCSD SPLOST documentation, the cash flow vs. original budget reflects cost overruns at a minimum of $21,000,000. This calculation includes an questionable amount reflected in the cash flow for Clarkdale ES – if you assume that the cost for Clarkdale is 100%, then the cost overruns for the projects exceeds $31,000,000 .

It appears that the CCSD continually exceeds expenses for Board approved projects.

With the cost overruns of 20% on the school projects, WHO is actually accountable for spending taxpayer dollars? And WHO is watching these expenses?
Teachers cut
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July 25, 2012
Lots of beautiful new buildings...and less great teachers to teach the students
Common Sense
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July 25, 2012
Is it me or did anyone notice that all of the projects are over budget?
anonymous
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July 25, 2012
It's you. READ the article. With the info provided in this article, eight are under and eleven are over. Overall, it appears that the total of the projects is several million under budget. Good news for all of us. Did common sense just fly out the window?
anonymous
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July 25, 2012
Guess you conveniently missed the fine print where at least 8 of the noted projects are "under" budget.
Alternative sources
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July 24, 2012
I really like that courtyard design on Mableton's school in the photo attached to the article. Great place for gatherings/instruction/assemblies/photos.
anonymous
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July 24, 2012
Per the Pine Mt. project, did the school system really get money back to build this project? How can you be more money under budget than the cost of the whole project.

Might want to check the math.
@anonymous
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July 24, 2012
I think you are a little confused. The renovations are costing $6.2M, but the SPLOST budget for that particular project was $13.3M, hence the project is coming in $7.2M under what they had budgeted for. There is no money coming back, just money they thought they would have to spend but didn't. It is interesting that they were so far off on their estimate, but thankfully, in this case, it favors the schools. That excess money is then used to offset the overruns many of the other projects had.
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