Destrehan wing completed in nick of time
The 48,599-square-foot wing addition, funded by a $45 million bond issue passed by voters in 2012, replaces several portable buildings used in past years as classrooms on the high school’s campus.
“It was frustrating and put a strain on our resources, but we got it done and we have good people that don’t mind taking the extra step to get things done,” John Smith, St. Charles Parish School Board member, said about the four-month delay.
In June, several board members and Superintendent Felecia Gomez-Walker voiced their concerns about the slow progress on the building, which they accurately predicted would not be completed by July 3. The project was initially scheduled to be completed 79 days prior on April 15, but inclement weather pushed that date back.
After hearing concerns from the school system, Aegis Construction Inc. devoted a larger portion of their staff to the project in order to substantially complete the wing.
“They really went into high gear, but they still are behind,” Smith said. “We can open school, but there are some items on the punch list, like painting. That is stuff they can work around in the evenings and weekends.”
School Board member Jay Robichaux said although the building looks complete from the outside, there is a long list of small projects that still need to be finished.
“I am confident our people are going to work around it and our kids are going to be in a great environment, but I am not very confident that the contractor is going to cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘I,’” Robichaux said.
The School Board is currently calculating the liquidated damages that will be withheld from the final payment to the contractor. The situation led Robichaux to call for stiffer penalties for contractors who do not meet deadlines.
“In the grand scheme of things that is not a whole lot of money that we are penalizing them, but that is off (their) profit,” he said. “I would love to up the penalties on new contracts and I am sure we are going to look at that.”
Despite all of the problems experienced in bringing the wing to its completion, Robichaux said he thinks the new building is a great addition to the campus.
“I think the building is beautiful, the functionally is unbelievable and at the end of the day we are going to be very happy,” he said.
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