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District plans to open Emblem Elementary next year

Emblem Elementary in Saugus to finish modernization

Posted: July 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Emblem Elementary School is on track to be completed by the end of this year within its original budget, a Saugus Union School District official said, adding that plans call for it to reopen for the 2013-14 school year.

“Within a few more months, it’s going to be a very safe site to send children and staff to, and I’m looking forward to that,” Saugus Union board President Rose Koscielny said in a recent interview. “Construction was not as expedient as we planned it to be, and now we have another layer of eyes on it, encouraging the contractor to move the project.”

The modernization project for the school, which included the construction of a two-story classroom, was supposed to be complete by November 2011. Arcadia-based Royal Construction, the company that won the bid on the project, has seen two subcontractors go out of business since the project began, and the delays have cost about $2 million so far, said Ferwyn Santos, company project manager.

“We are trying to do our best, (but) we don’t even know if we’re going to survive,” Santos said. “But we told the district we’re not going to give up, and we’re going to complete the job, whatever it takes.”

Balfour Beatty Construction, with more than 30 years of experience in school construction in the region, was hired in May to examine the project and identify the problems slowing Royal Construction’s job. Royal Construction’s bid on the project in 2010 was “very competitive,” according to Brian Kahill, Balfour Beatty executive vice president.

Staffing and scheduling were two of the problems identified, Kahill said.

“I think they had, from our perspective, some staffing issues, which they’ve corrected, and they needed to have a schedule and follow it, and someone needed to monitor it,” Kahill said. “And so we worked with them to have a viable schedule.”

Saugus Union officials approved an $11.6 million budget to modernize the 44-year-old school in April 2010, according to district documents.

Royal is honoring the commitment it made to finish the job for the quote it gave, Kahill said.

Based on construction progress, work could wrap up in November in a best-case scenario, but weather could delay progress through the winter, said Cynthia Shieh, assistant superintendent of business.

But the building won’t be ready for students by the end of the year, Koscielny cautioned, citing the need for approvals, certification and, of course, a new school year to start.

“It’s probably still going to take a while,” Koscielny said. “We’re planning on an opening for (2013-14 school year).”


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