INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The restroom renovations at Gifford Middle School were more extensive than district officials anticipated.
The tile installed on the floor was affixed to bare ground. Concrete wall bricks were partially removed and dry walled over. “We anticipated that we would have some challenges, but we grossly underestimated the lack of quality of what was there,” Director of Facilities Susan Olson told the Indian River County School Board Tuesday night. “It was slipshod at best – it was poor.”
The additional repairs to one of the school’s restroom facilities ran the district an additional $37,773 – though the project still came in under budget.
The final price for the renovation project is approximately $409,000 – less than the budgeted $496,000.
Olson explained to the School Board that the restroom’s state was overlooked for as long as it was because no one at Gifford Middle used it.
“The bathrooms are now being used,” Olson said, noting that she would take that as a sign of success.
Of all the projects she has overseen and been a part of at the district, Olson said that this “was the most appalling.”
However, the extra issues revealed even more that needed to be done, which worked in the district’s favor, she added.
“One thing led to another,” Olson said, explaining that replacing the wall tiling led contractors to discover problems with the pipes, which they would never have discovered otherwise.
Contractors reported finding a pipe repair that had been covered over with plywood and that the concrete block inside wall had been half-removed.
Olson said that with the extra repairs made, the original renovation project should have a longer lifespan.
The Gifford Middle School project will now serve as a teachable moment for the School District’s facilities staff, according to Olson.
She told the School Board that her staff would work to do better assessments of the older schools, where work had been done years prior.
Doing so would help to cut down on surprises mid-project, Olson added.