OGDEN -- Ogden High School students, faculty and staff are getting a back-to-school surprise: Construction and renovation work on the school will be done near the end of September, much earlier than promised.
"Our contract for the third floor had us officially ending in December, so we are almost four months ahead of schedule," said Tim Sobatka, Hughes Construction project manager. "Everybody wins."
He attributes the early completion to strong scheduling.
"We put a lot more manpower early in the schedule when we were pouring concrete and doing structural work and steel work, and it did have a good impact," Sobatka said. "And secondly, we have a really strong group of subcontractors who were all involved and attached to the project. It helps when they all have ownership."
The $65 million project included strengthening the original structure to meet modern earthquake standards, updating electrical systems and upgrading for the needs of technology, building modern computer and science labs, restoring the original 1937 Art Deco features, and remodeling multiple spaces for varied uses. A new physical education building, an atrium lunch room and a student-friendly courtyard have been put in place over the past four years.
Hughes Construction also handled the renovation and restoration of the school's elegant, ornate auditorium and stage, funded separately with $9 million in private funds raised by the Ogden School Foundation.
Faculty and staff move back into the building's second floor next week, Sobatka said. Hughes' crews still will be working on the third floor for another month, but most classes will start school Aug. 27 in the classrooms where they will stay the year. That's a contrast from the past few years, when classes were assigned to temporary spaces.
"The neat thing is the school does not require the space we will be in," Sobatka said. "They have enough teaching spaces now. They can move into their rooms and spread out. It's been tough for them in the past."
Sobatka and his crews will continue detail work and testing systems in eight to 10 third-floor classrooms, and will continue final work on stairwells.
"One of the biggest things is the safety factor for students and staff, which has skyrocketed," he said, of the renovation. "Traffic flow and safety are dramatically improved. The quad has turned into quite a gathering spot. It pulls students into the heart of the campus, and makes things a lot safer for them."
Even before crews are done, noise and dust levels should be greatly reduced compared to recent years.
Sobatka said when the job is done, he will miss Ogden High.
"My heart's been in this one, but every job must come to an end," he said. "Then again, I've been driving from Utah County daily for four and a half years, so I won't miss that commute."