DOVER — It’s going to be close, but the new Dover High School and Career Technical Center remains on schedule to open to students at the beginning of the next school year.
The $87.4 million project also remains on budget, said Deputy Mayor Bob Carrier who chairs the Joint Building Committee overseeing the project.
On Wednesday afternoon as part of the JBC meeting, the committee toured the new building under construction. The exterior brickwork is complete, and the roof is on. Some of the interior electrical wiring and plumbing have been installed along with some drywall. Some areas have also been painted or are getting prepped for painting. The windows, of which the new school will have many, have all been delivered. Many have been installed and many other windows still need to be.
PC Construction’s project manager Scott Blair said the project would be complete for Aug. 28, the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. PC Construction is the general contractor the city selected to build the new school. The project began in July 2016.
The building is a trapezium or irregular quadrilateral with an outdoor courtyard in the middle. The high school and career technical center classrooms are intermixed together and not separated as at the current high school.
“I love the incorporation of career tech into the general curriculum classrooms,” said Amanda Russell, who is on the JBC and chairs the School Board. She believes the school’s new design will entice more students to learn and be certified in a trade at the school while at the same time have the credits needed to attend a four-year college.
The main entrance of the school is the entry to the large auditorium as well as to the “Town Square” on the lower level of the building accessed by stairs near the entrance. The Town Square is a community space for the students during the school day and the public during events in the gym and auditorium. The Town Square is open-aired to the first floor where the CTC’s culinary arts and cosmetology programs will be.
The gym and the connecting practice gym will have numerous skylights to allow in natural light. There will also be skylights throughout the school along lots of windows to let sunlight into the building, a change from the current high school. Russell estimated around 48 percent of the current classrooms have no natural light.
“It’s incredible,” Russell said of the new school after the tour.
The project has gone to plan for the most part, Carrier said. One of the more challenging and costly aspects of the job occurred when workers hit ledge during excavation for some foundation work about four months ago. As part of initial site work due diligence, Carrier said there were test borings done in search of ledge. The borings were done every 25 to 30 feet, he said. However, in between a section of test holes, ledge was found that had to be blasted and chipped away, Carrier said. The city has set aside $3 million of the project for contingency issues, and more than half of the contingency still remains with most of the unknowns out of the way, Carrier said.
One major challenge to getting ready for the school to open on time is moving classroom equipment from the current high school into the new school. That move will begin soon after the conclusion of the current school year.
After the new school opens in August, the old school will be demolished. The contractor is also scheduled to do road and field work on the school grounds. The entirety of the project is slated for completion in January 2019.