Rollings Middle waiting OSF approval

Superintendent Joe Pye talks about the new Rollings Middle School of the Arts Monday night.

With less than a month to go until the first day of school, Dorchester District Two is anticipating two landmark events — the opening of the new Rollings Middle School of the Arts and the groundbreaking ceremony for the district’s aquatic center.

Board members have been assured the middle school is a safe building, but it still needs a final inspection by the Office of School Facilities – often referred as OSF.

However, Superintendent Joe Pye is confident the building will be ready for teachers by Aug. 15 and ready for students by the first day of school.

The aquatic center is a collaboration between the district and the City of North Charleston. Mike Windham, director of state and federal programs for the district, told board members Monday night that Brantley Construction was awarded the bid for the aquatic center, which will be built near Fort Dorchester High School off Patriot Boulevard.

There are already plans for the new roadway from the center to the high school to be complete before the beginning of school.

Windham said a groundbreaking is planned for Aug. 8.

“Things are really moving on,” Windham said.

Plans for the aquatic center include a 10-lane, 50-meter competition swimming pool and a 25-yard program pool that will support warm-ups for the swim team but also swimming lessons and other programs. The facility also includes locker rooms, a concession area, retractable bleachers that can seat up to 1,000, equipment rooms and administrative areas, among others.

Meanwhile, Paul Moscate, president of Oakridge Consulting, which oversees the work at Rollings, said officials are waiting on OSF to confirm final inspection later this week, and OSF is waiting in turn on the state fire marshals to confirm.

The district faced a setback with the new Rollings before last Christmas when a final OSF inspection was pushed back until after the holidays.

Finishing a temporary tunnel on the campus, as well as adding more fire safety code items in the science classrooms, required additional time. Officials also previously reported weather being a contributing factor to overall delays, as construction has endured two hurricanes a winter snow storm.

The district announced in January the opening of the new school would be pushed back to the 2018-2019 school year.

Moscate told board members the school is safe; he said a cleaning program is in place right now; the floors have been waxed, classroom furniture has been loaded into the building and the furniture for the office areas is ready.

He said the building is ready to receive the teachers’ boxes of materials from the old building; he said those were purposefully left out until the building received final approval on the sprinkler system.

Moscate said work is continuing on the auditorium. He projected an October-November completion date for the auditorium.

“I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful when it’s done – it’s going to be aggravating to get it there…but it’s going to be beautiful when it’s through,” he said.

He said officials are working with the contractor to clean up material around the auditorium before school starts.

Pye said he hopes that as early as next week the district can access the building, pending the date of final inspection.

Pye said he is very confident the children will be safe in the building by the first day of school – “how much lead time we have is still shaping,” he said.