Published in the August 6, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
NORTH READING — With the secondary schools project drawing to a close, the Secondary Schools Building Committee (SSBC) is taking steps to make sure the project not only finishes on time but on budget as well.
Architect Rob Juusola of Dore and Whittier said his firm has been reviewing change orders frequently as part of the project. He recommended removing five items from the project to save $84,000. SSBC Chairman Chuck Carucci noted during the meeting there is only $175,000 remaining in the contingency fund for the project. The money saved and the balance left in contingency means there’s about $250,000 left in the project budget, Stephen O’Leary told the Selectmen Monday night.
“Money’s getting tight,” O’Leary told the board. He also said the new middle school building will be turned over to the town on Aug. 17.
SSBC member Sean Delaney noted the items were not originally included in the project but were added as the project progressed.
Juusola recommended not proceeding with installing a counter, mirrors and make-up lights in the two dressing rooms located in the Daniel Shay Performing Arts Center, saving $27,000. He also recommended not adding a kitchenette to the staff dining room located between the middle and high school cafeteria, saving $25,000.
Additionally, Juusola did not recommend adding a pair of security doors off the Main Street corridor near the performing arts center, totaling $10,000. He explained the security doors were designed to restrict people’s access to the middle school while events are being held in the gym or performing arts center.
Juusola also recommended not adding additional card reader access near the electrical transformer at the middle school, which was designed to allow middle school teachers to enter the building. This recommendation saved $12,000.
Lastly, $10,000 was reduced from the mobile decoration budget.
Architect Brad Dore of Dore and Whittier expressed his support for removing the items from the project.
“I think these would be great things to add but given the money situation and the timing situation, it’s not the right time to do it,” said Dore. “If you want to do these things later, you can do them later.”
The elimination of the security doors sparked a debate among SSBC members. Superintendent of Schools Jon Bernard expressed his support for keeping the security doors in the project because it would restrict people’s access to the schools while events are being held.
“It’s not critical, but of the four items, the doors serve the greatest purpose,” said Bernard.
Selectmen Chairman Bob Mauceri expressed his support for keeping the security doors. He said there are a lot of valuable items in the secondary schools and he said it makes sense to “minimize access.”
“I think locking up the middle school should be a priority,” said Mauceri.
After a discussion, the SSBC voted to remove the items from the project.
Matt Skilling of the Gilbane Construction Company said the renovated North Reading Middle School is close to be being completed, as contractors are anticipating turning over the middle school to the town. Bernard informed the Transcript he expects the middle school to be turned over to the town around the third week of August.
“We are on track,” said Skilling.
Skilling said perimeter fences were being installed around the new tennis courts last week. He said installation of the ceiling and tile for the middle school cafeteria began on Thursday, July 30.
The floors in buildings E (the middle school administration and classrooms) and F (middle school classrooms and central office) are being waxed in preparation of students and teachers return to school. The front entrance retaining wall and construction of the sidewalks are progressing. Contractors also finished grading the access road near Arthur Kenney Field.
Skilling said the topcoat for the team room as well as paving for the tennis courts was scheduled to be completed last week. He said the fire department approved the alarm test on July 27.
Juusola said new middle school furniture and the “majority” of central office furniture are scheduled to be delivered on Aug. 13. He said new computer tables will be shipped on Aug. 13 and are scheduled to arrive on Aug. 18.
Juusola said tradesmen have been working on punch list items. He said a draft of the project’s certificate of substantial completion has been crafted, which he said will allow “final inspections and sign offs” to take place. He also said construction affidavits are being finalized before the final inspection takes place.
Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Wayne Hardacker said a contractor accidentally broke a sprinkler head in the middle school cafeteria that is being constructed. He said there was a “fair amount of flooding” in the boiler room, chiller room and a computer room located downstairs.
“There was very minimal damaged, which is still being assessed,” said Hardacker.
Change orders OK’d
The SSBC voted unanimously to approve the following change orders:
• $1,073.61 for providing details of parapet to high wall condition at seven locations.
• A credit of $11,782 credit for wall mounted acoustic panels in the art studios.
• $2,284.75 to provide blocking for tapered insulation transition between the middle school and central office.
• A proposal to relocate a switch for a motorized projection screen in the high school cafeteria. The request came at no additional cost.
• $679.63 for purchasing metal angles for the support of the soffit wall in the middle school collaborative.
• A credit of $21,125 for the deletion of colored concrete from the site contract.
• A no cost request for flagpole lighting configuration at the front of the secondary schools complex.
• A no cost request for the location of an exit sign on the second floor of the middle school.