New school will be ready for opening day

July 26, 2013

by Cris Ritchie — Editor

photo by Cordis Bishop

HAZARD – East Perry Elementary will be open and students will be in class at the county’s newest school on Aug. 14, according to officials who noted the school’s ongoing construction remains on schedule.

Melinda Joseph-Dezarn, project manager for the firm Ross Tarrant Architects, told the school board on Friday that dozens of workers are at the new school to ensure the building is ready for students next month. She noted that utilities weren’t even available at the site until just a few months ago, and it has been impressive to watch the progression of the project come together since then. Furniture is being assembled and placed in classrooms, and the fire alarm and HVAC inspections have already occurred at the site while more are scheduled for next week, including the electrical and occupancy inspections.

“It’s definitely coming together,” Joseph-Dezarn said.

There has been some doubt from members of the community that the building will be ready by the first day of school. According to district Finance Officer Jody Maggard, rumors have even circulated that the first day of school has been pushed back to September in order to accommodate construction. Those rumors simply aren’t true, he said.

“We want to reiterate that everything is on schedule and we plan to be in school up there August 14,” Maggard said, adding there has never been a discussion to delay the start of the upcoming school year.

The project will cost more than $20 million when complete and consists of the new elementary school replacing the now closed Dennis Wooton Elementary, along with an athletics complex consisting of a football field, a field house, and a soccer field.

While construction is ongoing and the facility is not quite ready yet, Maggard said security measures have been put into place that will help protect the facility from potential vandalism or thefts from the site. A night watchman has been posted there for the past week, while Maggard said the sheriff’s office has also been helpful in making sure the site is secure.

“The reason that we’ve done that , obviously, is to protect what we’ve got up there,” he said.

Officials are also working to schedule times when the public can visit the site with an open house, said Superintendent Jonathan Jett, while a community partner meeting is scheduled just before the new school year begins.

“We want to showcase it,” Maggard added. “It’s worth showcasing.”