New Hardy on track to open in September, construction manager says

Published 2:13 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

The new two-story Hardy Elementary will be completed and open on time for the first day of school in September, the project manager says.

Bill Cram, executive vice president of the project’s construction management firm, M.B. Kahn, updated Isle of Wight County School Board members on July 13.

The new school, modeled after Florence Bowser Elementary in Suffolk, will house nearly 900 students in preschool through fourth grade, replacing the circa-1961 Hardy that still stands adjacent to the new school.

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The demolition of the old school, save for two wings that will be repurposed as the school system’s new central office, should take place prior to Aug. 15, according to IWCS spokeswoman Lynn Briggs.

According to Cram, the final components of the school’s construction are occurring on time despite several setbacks that have occurred since the new Hardy broke ground in 2021.

“We are running on temporary chillers,” Cram said, attributing the issue to supply chain logistics delays in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Permanent chillers are to arrive by Aug. 23. Cram said he’s had discussions with county building officials who have agreed to allow the school to open for classes with the temporary chillers still in place, if need be.

The extension of water mains from Smithfield to the new school isn’t complete, but construction crews were able to fill the 500,000-gallon on-site water tower that will serve the new school by pumping water from 20,000-gallon tanker trucks operating 12 hours per day, six to seven days per week, Cram said.

The work, Cram said, remains on budget. The supervisors had originally budgeted $27 million for the project, but inflated costs of steel and other materials drove the guaranteed maximum price Isle of Wight County supervisors approved in 2021 to $36.8 million.

Prices have continued to climb since 2021 but are now “at a peak,” in Cram’s opinion.

“Inflation has slowed in school construction; delivery times are getting better,” he said.