LITTLE COMPTON — Ending months of uncertainty, the renovation of Wilbur & McMahon schools has finally reached two benchmarks that signal a new beginning for the much-delayed project.
First, a date has been set — Monday, February 25 — for the move of about 275 students from the old building into temporary classrooms.
Second, at its meeting Thursday, Jan. 24, the Town Council cleared the way for finalizing the $10.09 million renovation contract between the town and ADS Construction of East Providence by approving a change order for an above-ground enclosed fire (water) storage tank.
The change, which saved about $16,451 over the cost of burying the tank, cleared the way for Council President Robert Mushen to sign the contract, a deal that has been pending since the job was bid in October.
Mr. Mushen said Thursday he expected to sign “in the next few days.”
Work will start as soon as students vacate the building.
The students’ move into the two 70-foot-long modular buildings installed on the Peckham Lot to the west of Veterans Field coincides with their return from the February vacation, said Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Crowley Friday.
The week before that vacation break, she said, teachers will begin to move their classrooms.
An open house (date to be announced) in the modulars will be held sometime prior to the move, Ms. Crowley said, in order “for the parents, the community, and students to see the classroom spaces.”
Last summer it had been anticipated that modular classrooms would be ready for students around the first week in September, and that renovation would start then.
A series of delays, however, caused by problems relating to the temporary site, pushed back the date when the modular classrooms would be ready, and with it the start of renovation work on the old Wilbur & McMahon school building.
The long delay in the start of renovation work, in turn, threatened the cost of the project, at one point leading to rumors that the contract might have to be rebid.
The president of ADS Construction is Anthony L. DePasquale. “He’s been carrying the number of $10.09 million for almost four months” since the job was bid said Tom Allder, newly elected to the school committee and long-time chairman of the school building committee.
In the end, however, the town and Mr.Pasquale came to terms, Mr. Allder said, “and the start date for work will be when the kids move,” with no rebidding of the project.
“Everyone’s pressing hard to adhere to the February start date,” said School Committee Chairman Donald Gomez.
Mr. Gomez was recently re-elected chairman of the committee — “I’ve got to see the project through,” he said about his re-election.
“All permits have been obtained,” said Mr. Gomez. “Everybody’s on the same page. I can’t see any hang-ups.”
A $38,000 security system is being installed in the modular facilities, he said, much of which will be transferred over to the remodeled structure when the renovation is complete.
Messenger Security Systems of Tiverton Four Corners was awarded the contract for the security system.
Mr. Gomez said system features will include “a number of cameras and links to the police station. We did beef it up because of the Newtown episode.”
As for the final touches to the modulars — including electrical work — and the shift of the students from the old building to the temporary classrooms, Mr. Gomez said, “I hope the weather will accommodate. We’ll be renting some trucks to help with the move.”