Delays in HHS gym project explained

Dr. Bill Bishop, director of administrative services for Haleyville City Schools, shows the sign that has been posted at the project site where the high school gym facade is being replaced

HALEYVILLE  -  School officials are explaining details behind the delay in completing the Haleyville High School Gym project.
At the Monday, Sept. 26, work session of the Haleyville Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland explained the  projects ongoing at the gym as part of a discussion about capital improvement updates.  Sutherland explained the main gym floor has been refinished and new HVAC heating and cooling units have been installed.
Currently, efforts are underway to build coverings for the new HVAC units, located outside at the rear of the gym.
The cost of replacing lighting was estimated at $71 apiece for all lights, to be replaced at the same time, which Sutherland added would be more cost effective.
The most major part of the renovations is the front facade, which has not been renovated since the gym was built in the 1960s.  The glass has been ordered and will be applied to the front facade.
“ “Is that project on budget, over budget or under budget?”  board member Boo Haughton asked.
“About $40,000 under budget,” Sutherland said. “We have done some things to cut back on that.”
“It has taken a long time to get done,” Haughton added.
Sutherland cited that the contractor could not get laminated glass for the front of the gym, so non-tempered, stronger glass was chosen.
“That saved us $6,000,” Sutherland noted.  
“Good,” Haughton responded.
Sutherland said the doors are causing a delay currently.
“They are prepared to put up some temporary doors to get us in hopefully pretty close to time, if not on time.
“We meet with our general contractors (on all projects) weekly,” Sutherland said. “They are very good about updating us, working through issues and taking our suggestions.”
The gym project has been ongoing since the contract was signed May 20, noted Dr. Bill Bishop, director of administrative services for HCS.  The contract specified a Sept. 30, completion date, which was not met, with contractors stating it will be at least late October before the  work is completed.
Building Construction Associates Inc., of Decatur is the general contractor on the $1.5 million project, which is being paid from a $2.3 million bond issue the school system received, school officials said. BCA is working under architects Goodwyn Mills Cawood.
The project was first bid out around February, but no bids were submitted, according to Bishop.  The school system then discussed the project with local general contractors, which took time due to other construction demand issues, he added.
BCA then came on site with the architects and looked over the project, with the board approving them as contractors in the spring, school officials said.
The project includes $80,000 in contingencies, which cover the project in case of unforeseen issues, such as delays in getting materials and supplies.
“If you have change orders, then you can get some of that money back,” Bishop explained. “We try to save as much money as we can so we can put it on other things.  We’re hoping we don’t have to use any or much of that contingency.”
One of those unforeseen circumstances was plumbing issues encountered during the project, resulting in an all-new inflow and outflow system installed in the foyer, school officials said.
“We had an issue with some concrete that didn’t  meet specifications,” Bishop explained. “That was due to the concrete company.”
The concrete which was first applied, Bishop explained, failed to meet certain specifications, which meant that portion of the project had to be redone.
“That didn’t put us behind,” Bishop assured. “What has put us behind is supply and demand issues because of the whiplash  from COVID. That is what people don’t understand.
“Used to, you could get anything you wanted anytime you wanted,” Bishop explained.   “Six weeks was a long time to wait for anything. Now, we’re talking about having to wait 100 weeks.
“This whiplash in shutting down the economy has long lasting effects on supply,” Bishop stated.
“Anytime you’re dealing with construction, you can’t just do what you want to do. You have to follow regulations,” Bishop explained.
“Our job is to make sure it gets done as close to the deadline as possible,” Bishop pointed out.  “You can’t control contractors, you can’t control bad concrete and you can’t control supply and demand issues.  We are good servants for the public and we don’t mind answering to the public.”
The gym is currently the largest project ongoing at HCS.  The project includes renovating the entire lobby to provide a new glass trophy case containing a real taxidermy lion, as well as  renovating the concession stand and adding a restroom with greater accessibility for the physically disabled.



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