Delay disappoints, doesn’t disable


Although the driveways and parking lot at Hillsboro Elementary School indicate a lot of work to go, the space created inside could be ready for full occupation as soon as Monday, according to school officials. If the weather cooperates, the projects at HES and the high school could be entirely finished by the end of the month.

Facility progress wasn?t where USD 410 administrators had hoped it would be when the new school year began last Wednes?day.

But the inconvenience caused by unfinished building projects really hasn?t been any worse than it was when those projects were launched last spring.

An usually wet spring and summer prevented the district?s building contractor, Coonrod & Associates, from meeting the Aug. 10 target date for completing the improvement projects at the high school and elementary school.

?I?m the last one to make excuses, but the weather wasn?t overly cooperative?and I think everybody understands that,? said Superintendent Doug Huxman.

?The one thing that everybody should understand is that we started the new year with access to only one less room than when we ended the previous year.?

And that classroom?the biology/chemistry classroom at the high school?was ready for occupancy on the Monday following the Wednesday start.

Huxman said he is optimistic that the contractors and subcontractors will reach their goal of completing the interior work by next Monday, Aug. 25.

At the elementary school, that means getting access to a new dining and kitchen facility, a relocated office, art and music space and an additional classroom.

At the high school, that means a new science classroom, new dressing rooms and coaches offices and a new weight room.

Huxman admitted the completion of the exterior work?new hard-surfaced parking lots and pick-up and drop-off areas at both schools?is more difficult to predict because progress is still dependent on the weather.

He said he is hopeful both projects could be fully completed by the end of the month, weather permitting.

Another unknown is the extent to which the wet weather has affected the work schedule for the subcontractor that will lay the asphalt for the parking lots and driveways.

?Basically, they?re done with curb and gutter at the elementary, and they have a little to finish the high school yet,? he said. ?But the only way it works (economically) is that when they?re ready to lay asphalt, they come up and do it all at once.?

Huxman said, in an effort to help the district, the contractors brought in a machine to lay an initial layer of asphalt around the circle drive at the elementary school prior to the start of school. That enabled buses to drop off and pick up children near the building.

?They did that intentionally, which was really a godsend for the congestion,? Hux?man said. ?We would have had to load and unload buses on the street.?

Until the driveway and parking lot are finished along the east side of the elementary school, the district will continue to use the one-way alley as a drop-off strategy along the west side of the building.

?Whenever this is all done, then that?s going to go back to what it was,? Huxman said of the alley.

?The people in the neighborhood have been really patient with us,? he added. ?They could have really griped and groaned about it, but they just have not done that. It?s been really good.?

The wet weather did cause an unexpected obstacle for the contractors at mid-summer. Runoff rain water seeped below the middle school gymnasium, causing some floor boards to curl.

Contractors brought in a large heat blower that successfully dried the area and pulled the floorboards back to their original position.

Even though the floor won?t have to be replaced, the district will need to refinish the floor ahead of schedule.

But the other expenses to repair the area?including those related to the blow dryer?will be absorbed by the contractor, Huxman said.

In fact, none of the weather-related delays will result in additional expense to the district, he added. ?The only penalty to us has been not getting in as soon as we had anticipated,? he said.

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