Students and staff at three Arlington schools will have to wait their turn a little longer before their facilities receive modernized, secure entrances.
School Board members on March 24 were briefed on how the school system plans to address rising materials costs and supply-chain issues, which have knocked both scheduling and budgeting of the school-entrance program off-kilter.
The good news: New entrances to Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School will be constructed on schedule this summer. The bad news: Entrances to Taylor Elementary and Williamsburg Middle will be delayed a year, and an entrance-improvement project at Thomas Jefferson Middle School is now on indefinite hold.
The school system had anticipated spending $5.3 million, total, for the five projects. Now the estimate is $5.3 million for the four that are moving forward, with the Thomas Jefferson entrance folded into a later, larger school-renovation project.
School Board members on April 7 are slated to approve a $1.6 million construction contract for the Gunston effort, which will involve relocating the entrance from the back of the building to the South Lang St. side (near the entrance to the two adjacent community theaters).
Some of the extra cost needed for Gunston was for modifications to the original plan that were unrelated to the current inflation/supply-chain woes of the nation, school officials said.
The Wakefield project also is moving along the pipeline with construction work set for summer. As for Williamsburg and Taylor, there was concern that the projects couldn’t be completed during the period this summer between the end of classes in June and the start of them in August, making a delay the prudent course.
“There are still some serious issues in the supply chain,” said Jeffrey Chambers, director of design and construction for the school system.
“We don’t want to start [the projects] . . . and then not be able to finish them” before students come back, he said.
As to the overall estimate of $5.3 million to get all four entrances done by next summer, Chambers acknowledged that things were in such flux it’s hard to know for sure it it’s a figure that can be adhered to.
“We may have to add more to that,” he said of the budget amount. “I love to be an optimist, but sometimes I can’t be.”
The effort to reconstruct school entrances for more security has been ongoing for years. Chambers estimated that more than half of county schools have now received retrofits.