Mar 152014

An illustration of problems with the steel beams at Audubon's Broadway campus. ( file photo)

An illustration of problems with the steel beams at Audubon’s Broadway campus. ( file photo)

Audubon Charter School’s return to its Broadway Street campus has been pushed back a year to 2015 as school officials continue investigation construction issues there, the school board learned Saturday morning.

Audubon administrators attended an Orleans Parish School Board property committee meeting this past week where the completion date for the renovation and expansion of their Broadway campus was changed to June 2015, a year later than the move-in date of this summer that was originally planned, said school principal Janice Dupuy at a Saturday morning meeting of the charter school’s governing board.

OPSB officials did not, however, offer any update on the installation of the building’s frame that is causing the delay, Dupuy said. Because the issue has been the subject of dispute between the contractor and the School Board, Dupuy said OPSB officials may be mum at this time while legal considerations are worked out.

Meanwhile, Audubon leaders continue to grapple with other facilities issues at their two “temporary” campuses.

At the Gentilly campus holding students who will eventually return to Broadway, roof leaks are appearing in the modular buildings, said operations manager Alisa Dupre. Roofers are coming this week to begin repairs, but the OPSB contract for the modulars does not include maintenance, so Audubon will have to pay for it, she said.

“Those are costs we are going to have to look at absorbing,” Dupre said.

Ants are also a problem in the springtime, particularly at the Gentilly campus, Dupre said, so Audubon is taking preventative steps now before they appear.

At the new campus on Milan Street, where Saturday morning’s meeting was held, OPSB contractors are still replacing peeling paint on the third floor, Dupre said. They were at work Saturday morning, sanding down door frames and repainting them, and Dupre said that work will continue on weekends only until it is complete.

The workers are also unsealing the windows, so at least one window in every classroom can be opened, Dupre said. The only major remaining item on Milan Street is the heating-and-air system, which the OPSB still needs to create a plan to address, she said.

The new playground at Milan Street “is complete and it’s beautiful,” Dupre said, but it is surrounded by sand, making it too muddy for kids to get to after a rain. The school plans to install a path of large pavers so that students can access the playground after wet weather, she said.

One member of the audience, P. Felix, suggested more signage and landscaping at the entrance to Milan Street, which she described as “muddy and bland.” Dupuy said that OPSB member Woody Koppel has promised assistance with landscaping, but that the school is waiting until all the renovation work is complete, so it won’t be damaged by workers.

“I think we’re waiting to have everything completed,” Dupuy said. “We wouldn’t want to put something there, and it to be torn up to get something else.”

Board member Eva Alito agreed with Felix that better signage is needed, however, and asked the administrators to pursue it.

Finally, technology director Dion Weber told the board that the school’s computers are not fast enough to run the software used to administer the new state standardized tests, and that replacing them will cost about $250,000 — a cost that can be spread across two years.

Board chair Cornelius Tilton expressed his frustration that the state is requiring Audubon and other public schools to spend so much money at once to replace machines that are sufficient for the school’s other uses — especially when the new ones will also have to be replaced in a few years as the technology improves.

“This highlights once again the difficulties that we’re facing in public education,” Tilton said. “We’re just a mouse speaking amongst a bunch of lions who have very little interest in funding the education system they require you to have. Money that could go to educating children may have to be diverted along the way, and that’s just unconscionable.”

  • boathead12

    Broadway Campus – Here is the hidden cost of lowest bidder contracting. Change orders, delays, and legal fees. Most other governments require contractors to submit “past performance” and best value is considered, rather than lowest bid price. Our children are suffering due to this ill advised policy. It needs to be changed.