Allegations of construction deficiencies may delay opening of Priceville High School

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PRICEVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Allegations of construction deficiencies could delay the opening of Priceville’s new high school. But the real question is whether the building is safe.

Morgan County School Superintendent Bill Hopkins says because there are questions, he has hired an independent construction engineering firm to determine if there are problems and what will have to be done to fix them.

The plan was to move students into the new Priceville High School after the Christmas break. But it now depends on a report from Blackburn, Daniels O’Barr Consulting Structural Engineers. They’ve been hired to make certain the new school building is safe.

“They’re going to go to the site and review documents and they’re going to look and give us an unbiased opinion as to what is the best way to proceed,” according to Morgan County School Superintendent Bill Hopkins.

Among the concerns is inadequate support within some of the exterior walls, improper supports for the gymnasium roof and problems with the poured walls of the school’s interior safe room. Hopkins says the designers and contractors could not agree, so the Alabama Building Commission became involved and recommended a third party to investigate.

“You know, our first priority is to make certain it’s a safe school. Would we have liked to have had it built a little quicker? Absolutely, that’s convenient,” Hopkins says. He added, “But convenience is not what we’re concerned about. It’s the safety and functionality of the school. That’s out top priority.”

The consulting structural engineers began their work Monday. Hopkins says the engineering firm will charge $25,000 for their work. He says this is not a cost overrun, and was included in the original contract.

Hopkins says there is no timeline on the engineer’s report and, as a result, impossible to say if students will occupy the new school after Christmas as planned.

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