Newton Career Academy facing tight construction schedule

COVINGTON -- A tight construction deadline will mean that students enrolled in the Newton College & Career Academy will be able to move into a new school building in January, but some parts of the building that aren't needed right away will be unfinished.

Students enrolled in the Career Academy are currently attending classes at Alcovy High School on a temporary basis while the permanent school building is under construction near Newton County High School on Ram Drive.

Ray Moore, of the architectural firm Cunningham Forehand Matthews and Moore, told the Newton County Board of Education Tuesday night that due to delays he did not believe the $13 million project would be completed by the target date of Jan. 4. Instead, Moore said, he has prioritized portions of the building that would be needed by Jan. 4 and those sections of the building will be completed.

"We've had some difficult times keeping the contractor on track," Moore said.

Moore said the horticulture and construction labs would be completed on the first floor of the building as they are the only classrooms that will be needed when the building opens. Other space on that floor would remain unfinished until a use is specified and the space is needed, he said.

On the main level of the building, Moore said all areas except the lecture hall and a portion of the early childhood education suite would be ready for classes by Jan. 4.

On the third level, only the stairwells and data room will be completed.

Deputy Superintendent for Operations Dennis Carpenter said Friday that school system officials were aware from the beginning that the construction deadline would be a challenge.

Carpenter said that all of the building will be completed by Jan. 31, and no student schedules will be changed due to the ongoing construction.

"It was a tight schedule to begin with, and we worked very hard at it, but we just won't be completed," he said.

Moore told board members that no contractors will be on the premises when students are present. He said they have been instructed to work in the early morning until noon, when students arrive, and after 3 p.m., when students leave.

Moore added that the sprinkler, HVAC and intercom systems will be in working order by Jan. 4, and the two elevators will be operational in December.

Career Academy students are currently taking classes in horticulture, engineering, construction, cosmetology, culinary arts and agriculture, among others. About 240 students are enrolled this year, with enrollment expected to increase to 500 next year when students will be on campus for the entire school day. The school is designed to accommodate 800 students.