'80-20' Odds On New School

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Fire Marshal Concerns Must Be Addressed


There is a “high probability” the new Glenwood Community High School will open as scheduled Wednesday provided a re-doubled effort by contractor Construction Services, Inc. (CSI) completes fire safety work prior to a final inspection Monday by the state fire marshal.

On Thursday, Glenwood Superintendent Dr. Stan Sibley, after meeting with CSI's Omaha President Dan Biere and Des Moines chief Steve Bennett, placed the odds of the needed fire safety work being completed by Monday at 80-20. Any lower odds than that and Sibley said the school would have had to implement a contingency plan that could delay the start of classes at the high school by at least a week.

“All I can say is CSI Des Moines has sent more people, management and subcontractors, to help at this point, to help the current contractors and they have a plan for completing all of the things that must be done prior to the fire marshal's final inspection on Monday,” said Sibley. “That plan seems workable given the professional evaluation of the president of CSI Des Moines and Omaha. They said there is a high probability they can complete that.”

Sibley said workers will be working throughout the weekend to complete the work. Sibley will also be in communication with CSI monitoring the progress to ensure fire and safety systems are completed, tested and ready for certification no later than Sunday for Monday's final inspection.

“We are willing at this point to give them the benefit of the doubt if there is a high probability they will get everything completed that is necessary to be completed before the fire marshal's final inspection,” Sibley said.

State fire marshal inspector Tim Spears cut a Tuesday inspection of the school short after he determined a list of needed improvements he recommend in a prior visit had not been sufficiently completed. Sibley said that list was several pages long and included such unfinished or unresolved issues as missing door closers, dampers and light switches and the distance between the top of water sprinkler fixtures and the ceilings in the school.

Sibley said most of the items are not serious safety concerns but they are necessary for the school to receive it's occupancy certification by the state fire marshal's office.

CSI did not give an explanation on why the listed items were not completed but Sibley said he was given a commitment they will complete “virtually 100 percent of the issues raised in the past, and complete the fire and life safety systems and have those inspected before the fire marshal arrives on Monday morning.”

“The pressure is certainly on CSI and their subs to pull this thing together. We're over 10 months delayed over the first date given and eight months delayed the one extension because of inclement weather. This school district, its leadership, its board administrative team and staff and student sand parents have lost confidence in the work construction company we've been working with. Now is the time for them to redeem themselves."

In addition to addressing the items on the fire inspection punch list, hired cleaning crews are also expected to be working at the school this weekend.

Should the new high school not be ready for occupancy on Aug. 26, all other schools in the district will open for the new school year as planned, Sibley said.

Any new and updated information concerning the school and Wednesday's planned opening will posted on The Opinion-Tribune website.