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Middle School Project Making Up Ground
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2018-08-30

Officials Optimistic that school will open on time

 

            As part of his professional duties, John Sheeran visits the site of Upper Perkiomen's new middle school in Upper Hanover approximately once a week. Whenever Sheeran drives past the construction, he gawks at the progress.

            "I love it," said Sheeran, the director of facilities and operations for the Upper Perkiomen School District and a licensed wastewater engineer. "I'm like a little kid when it comes to this stuff."

            The three-story classroom building and a connected administrative wing, covered with spray foam insulation, looms over Montgomery Avenue. Bricks covering half the wall of the classroom wing "brings the building to life," according to Superintendent Alexis McGloin.  

In the classroom wing, the concrete floors have all been poured, and the roof installation is underway and should be completed within the next couple weeks, weather permitting, according to Sheeran. He also stated that framing for the classroom walls is 90 percent complete, and that crews are currently installing the HVAC duct work, electrical, fire sprinklers, plumbing for rest rooms and additional insulation.

            A large window connected to a series of offices and conference rooms, spaced out with steel partitions and dry wall, provides a clear line of site to the street.  A series of steel planks attached to the rear of the conference area identifies the future library.

            Farther south, in the middle of the 43-acre property along the Green Lane Reservoir, crews utilize a crane to install multiple joists at the auditorium, music room technical education and gymnasium portion of the school.

            At the same time, another man wearing a hard hat is placing the main electrical feeds behind a mechanical room near a tech-ed classroom. Sheeran pointed out a raised section of concrete that will eventually serve as the auditorium's control room as well as the area identified as the stage.

            "The different sections of the school are taking shape," McGloin wrote in an Aug. 24 email message. "The construction project is moving along at a rapid pace and I am pleased with (it). I am excited for the opportunities that will be available for our students and staff because of this new building."

Despite a Dec. 1 vote by the Upper Perkiomen School Board to pause the construction, the $55.890 million facility for sixth, seventh and eighth graders remains on budget and scheduled to open in time for the 2019-20 school year, according to the superintendent. Though the members have approved multiple change orders, the project has incurred no additional costs, McGloin wrote in an Aug. 24 email message.

In April, four months after the board members voted to terminate and restart the project, they approved a $35,799 payment to D'Huy Engineering, Inc., the Bethlehem firm in charge of overseeing the project, for stabilizing the site. They also voted to pay two contractors $203,261 for costs related to the board's stop/start of the project, which also added 22 days to the permitted construction time.

Last month, board Member Melanie Cunningham announced a similar delay during a facilities committee meeting at Hereford Elementary. Last week, McGloin repeated her belief the new building would open in time for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

"I believe we're going to get this project back on track," she said following the school board's Aug. 23 workshop meeting.

Sheeran is confident the school will be completed on time. He credited D'Huy Engineering for keeping the project on track.

            "The weather has been the biggest issue," said Sheeran, who represents the district at bi-monthly construction meetings. "The thing with the board did not help, either."

            According to Sheeran, the steel crew is working seven days a week to make up for time lost this winter due to the board's vote and heavy snow. He said the crew's work should be concluded by the end of the month. The facilities director estimated that the classroom wing will be closed before Christmas, which will allow for interior work to continue over the winter.

            At least four contactors or sub-contractors are working at any one time at the site between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. during the week, weather permitting, according to Sheeran. He said the general contractor – Boro Developers, Inc. – utilized a 3D model-based computer process, prior to breaking ground, in order to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.

             Late last week, crews continued to implement the roof and metal decking. According to Sheeran, PECO has already run a gas line to the site from Walt Road so crews can work inside the structure this winter.

            "I've never seen a group of contractors work so well together," Sheeran said. "That can make or break a project."

            Contractors have avoided any major issues at the site, according to Sheeran. He said they have been forced to deal with minor issues related to electricity and the building's sprinkler system.

            Meanwhile, Sheeran continues to work months ahead. Recently, he showed the electrical contractor how to install a version of the state-of-the-art projectors that will be utilized at the middle school. He has also begun consulting with Principal Christine Siegfried on numbering the rooms and Bryan Ruzenski, the district's director of technology, on questions dealing with the implementation of computers in the classrooms.

            "That's how you keep a project like thing moving forward," Sheeran said.


 

 

 

 

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