A construction project at the Wiley Magnet School gym could be accelerated from the original timeline, after discussion and a vote in the school district’s Building and Grounds Committee on Tuesday.
Committee members decided on a 4-1 vote to move up the timeline of the project. Dana Jones cast the one vote against.
But details of what that acceleration would look like are not currently available, a fact that raised concerns from committee members as well as other members of the school board. Staff will work to get more of that information together for the board at the next meeting this is discussed.
Some board members questioned the intent of moving the project and suggested it is related to the push for a stadium at Reynolds High School on land next to Hanes Park.
The Wiley construction was a 2016 bond project, and the project list and timeline were approved by a majority of the voters in Forsyth County for nearly $10 million. Plans call for six new classrooms in addition to the new gym.
Design work was originally slated to begin this spring.
The demolition of the original gym building is currently set for summer of 2020, because the work includes the removal of the boiler for the school. Even if design were to start immediately, the process would not allow for enough time to replace HVAC this summer.
“If it starts today, there’s no way we could do it before September or October,” said Colon Moore, director of construction planning and operations. “We’ve got four months worth of design and permitting and approvals and then the equipment that we would have to use is probably a two-to-three-month lead time.”
Construction would start later in the summer of 2020, and the project is expected to be completed for the 2022-23 school year.
But Leah Crowley, who chairs the Building and Grounds Committee, had asked for more information on ways the project could be accelerated.
In a memo to the committee, one option to accelerate the process would be to demolish the building earlier than next summer. However, that would not give the district time to complete the HVAC system in lieu of the boiler attached to the gym.
In order to keep heat in the cooler months, the district could rent a temporary boiler. It’s estimated that would cost an additional $325,000.
If work on the HVAC system were to hold off until the next summer, it could be completed in two months because the building would be unoccupied, Moore said in the committee meeting.
Work could be done while the building is occupied, but it would take longer, potentially six to eight months, to work around the students and teachers, Moore said.
When the gym is demolished and the new one is being built, Wiley students will use the auxiliary gym at Reynolds just down from Wiley.
Another point of contention is the project’s connection to the Reynolds stadium. A plan for the stadium envisions the Wiley project being completed first.
Part of the understanding for the stadium is that it would have to be funded privately.
During a discussion in the committee meeting about possible timelines to move the project up, Jones asked as to why this particular item was up for discussion.
Lori Clark then questioned fellow board member Crowley’s interest in the project, noting that Crowley’s husband is on the Reynolds football staff. Pat Crowley is the head football coach at Reynolds.
Crowley strongly campaigned on building the stadium at Reynolds. She was a member of Home Field Advantage, the group working to bring the stadium to fruition.
But she said after the school board meeting that moving up the timeline of the Wiley addition is not because of the stadium but to benefit Wiley.
“I would not be profiting from this, I don’t own a construction company that’s going to build the Wiley addition,” she said.
“I don’t own anything that’s going to profit from the stadium. I will not receive any more benefit than any other parent whose children go to Reynolds would receive.”