School Officials Frustrated with Unfinished Hill School

As students file in today (Aug. 19) to their first-ever day of classes at the new Hill School, City and school officials are fretting over the fact that the school is not completely finished.

School officials said they are looking to exercise options in the contract of the construction firm – CTA Construction – to penalize them for not delivering a finished school on time.

Supt. Emeritus Paul Dakin said he was furious while touring the building Tuesday, noting that there is still plenty of work to do with wiring, in cleaning up, with finish details and with outside landscaping as he walked past men on ladders and women laying tile.

“As you can see, it’s ready to occupy, but not in the same as any of the other buildings we’ve opened,” he said. “I’m very disappointed in the general contractor, the architects and the project management people as they promised the building would be ready. We’re ready for teaching and learning, but we’ll still be working after 4 p.m. and on the weekends. I can’t be in a celebratory mood until that is over.”

In the school on Tuesday, the majority of the school was very impressive, but many of the final things seemed to be a long way off. A fire alarm system was still being tested, tile still hadn’t been lain, workers were busy trying to get wiring in the ceilings, ceiling tiles were missing and some areas had yet to have finish paint.

“We want it spit polished and it’s not spit polished,” he said. “We are checking our protections under the contract. Right now I think there are protections in the contract and they will be applied to the contractor. They have not done as good a job on this as compared to other jobs…The important part is teaching and learning will go on and in short time everyone will be pleased. The fine-tuning and finish work isn’t up to the standard I say is acceptable. Even they acknowledged it’s not acceptable. The architect and project management firm agree it’s not acceptable. We don’t get the same feedback with CTA.”

The project management team is Hill International and the architects are DRA Associates, the same two outfits involved in the four other school projects.

“They have all been very well aware of and it has been pointed out to them several times the deadline for finishing all of this, and here we are without it being done,” he continued.

Dakin said he expected the work to continue on the school for another two months while classes are in session.

He said that any workers in the building when children are present will be subject to a criminal background check (CORI) and will be accompanied. However, he said the larger issue would be supervising the workers during off-hours to make sure they do not disturb any educational materials.

“Any worker working in the building when kids are present will be CORI’d and will be with somebody,” he said. “There shouldn’t be any concern about that. The big concern is that if we have a nightshift, we have to have to make sure they don’t disturb things in the classroom. I need to have a whole set of eyes in here while they clean and finish up.”

The project, however, is on budget.

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