R.N. Beck Center Near Completion in Florence

by Lauren Owens

The R.N. Beck Learning Center is nearing completion, the Florence One Schools board was told Tuesday.

At a called meeting, Michael McGee, vice president of engineering at Industrial Project Innovation, gave the board an update on the project. McGee is working with the district on the Beck construction.

The building is expected to go through Office of School Facilities inspections between April 22 and May 6. McGee said another week of work is expected after the inspection, and then the district will gain access to the building between April 30 and May 14.

This fall, children will attend the R.N. Beck Learning Center. R.N. Beck will be an early childhood development center.

The completion of the building is nearly 12 months late because of storm damage and other construction delays.

This year the construction has had some problems caused by vandalism on Feb. 20, which required the replacement of bathroom tiles and drywall as well as some doors.

According to McGee, it cost the district $1,000 for every day that the building’s completion was delayed.

Currently, the subcontractors are ready to start laying asphalt and they have received approval on the duct work, the ceiling and electrical work, McGee said during his presentation.

Superintendent Richard O’Malley proposed to the Board of Trustees that the district use the “8 percent money” for maintenance and technology. “Eight percent money” is money the district borrows through bonds issued against 8 percent property values in the district.

Board member E.J. McIver said continuing the pay-as-you-go plan, which uses the 8 percent money, was the backup plan for the district to continue building buildings, and it is unfair to those in the Southside Middle, Savannah Grove Elementary and Williams Middle communities.

Board member Bryan Chapman said the pay-as-you-go plan has gotten the district in the situation that it is in currently. He also said the district must take care of the problems that have been ignored.

“Everybody is going to learn a lesson now about what the 8 percent money is,” Chapman said. “We’ve got to fix the leaks, and fix the problems now. We’ve got to fix all the other stuff and not build new buildings.”

Porter Stewart said the district has put maintenance on the back burner for a while and pushed hard in many other areas, but it is time for the district to begin investing in the maintenance of the schools again.

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