Despite the best efforts of the crews working to complete the new Anna K. Davie Elementary School by January, Rome Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden isn’t sure that will happen.
The $11 million project has been hampered by minor setbacks since the school system first broke ground for the South Rome facility last summer, and Bearden said it might not be ready for students until next August.
“The target is still to have the school open in January, 2015,” Bearden said. “However, it is becoming more and more doubtful that is going to happen.”
Students and teachers at Southeast Elementary School on Crane Street will be transferred to the new Anna K. Davie Elementary School upon completion of the project, which is being funded by the education local option sales tax.
School officials had hoped the move would take place over Christmas break this December in order to have minimal impact on classroom instruction.
If the new facility is not completed until after the first of the year, it would be summer vacation before there is sufficient time to get classrooms and offices ready for the transfer.
“To be honest, we’re still behind in construction and I don’t know if we’ve caught up enough to be finished by January,” Bearden said. “But that’s no fault of the construction company.”
Delays were caused by inclement weather during the winter — including snow, ice and consistent rain — paired with the discovery of massive rock deposits on the lot between East Main Street and South Broad Street.
“They have done a tremendous amount of blasting on the site,” Bearden said. “It was just something that was unexpected.”
While the exterior structures of the gym building and main building have been mostly completed, Bearden said there is still plenty of work to do to the interior, including constructing the classrooms.
“I can’t imagine that we would move children into that school until it is completely ready to go,” Bearden said. “We’re still holding out a little bit of hope that the weather will be terrific the next three or four months so we get a lot done, but we don’t want to jeopardize the quality of the work.”
Anna K. Davie is set to be the home for an early learning center and adult learning center created through a special public-private collaboration. Rome City Schools is working with South Rome Redevelopment Corp., Berry College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College to set up the programs.
Sam Moss, SRRC board chair, said the possibility of a delay in opening the school does not discourage their enthusiasm about the programs or having the new school in their community.
“Whenever the school opens, we’ll be on board,” Moss said. “We had hoped for the January opening, but if that doesn’t take place, then we’ll plan ahead and jump right in whenever they’re ready.”
Bearden, who will be leaving Rome City Schools this month to take the superintendent’s position at Forsyth County Schools, said it was ambitious to have the school completed in the original time frame.
“I’ve been involved in school construction projects before, and it is unusual to have schools built in a year or less,” he said. “But if everything goes right and falls into place, it can happen.”
The Rome Board of Education voted to close the original Anna K. Davie school on Nixon Avenue in 2010 and tore down the school in 2011.