WOOD RIVER JCT. — Construction on the new Chariho Alternative Learning Academy is progressing quickly with exterior walls completed and work on the interior set to begin soon. Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said the construction had gone smoothly so far.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with construction on the Chariho Alternative Learning Academy,” he said. “From the general contractor on down, everyone has been cooperative, on budget and on time.”
Formerly known as the RYSE School, the school for students with special needs is currently located in trailers on the Chariho campus. The Rhode Island Department of Education approved $5.2 million for a new building and will reimburse the district up to 65 percent of the construction cost, leaving the Chariho towns to pay approximately $2 million. Voters in those towns approved a bond of up to $6 million to build the new school.
The Ahlborg Construction Corporation, of Warwick, was awarded the contract after submitting the lowest bid of $4,675,000. Ahlborg Vice President Glenn Ahlborg said the building would soon be enclosed, so the inside work could continue during the winter.
“The project is on schedule, it’s coming along very smoothly,” he said. “We are at this time installing the roofing membrane on top of the roof structure and we’ll have the building weathered in by the end of this week.”
Ahlborg said paving had also been completed.
“Another milestone that we had established was to have our paving down, also by this time, and the paving was installed by the end of October as projected as well.”
A major factor in keeping the project on schedule has been the absence of change orders from the building committee.
“There have been no change orders to date,” Ahlborg said. “There have been no unforeseen conditions or any changes in the project that would cost the district extra money.”
Committee Chair Lisa Macaruso said the group had made an effort to ensure that there were no construction delays by working closely with Ahlborg and the project architect, Robinson Green Beretta.
“In my view, the unprecedented synergy among the building committee and partners comes from our shared commitment to the RYSE students and our responsibility to the Chariho community, which has entrusted us to be good financial stewards,” she said.
The project has been a learning opportunity for RYSE students, some of whom are participating in the weekly construction meetings. Students enrolled in the construction program at Chariho Tech are also learning about the construction trades.
“Ahlborg has provided opportunities for the students at RYSE to participate in the weekly construction meetings and has begun the process of collaborating with the CTC faculty to offer exposure to trades on site that align with Chariho Tech’s innovative curriculum,” Macaruso said. “The building committee has been involved in every aspect of this project with representatives collaborating on our CHPS [Collaborative for High Performance Schools] certification, others attending weekly construction meetings and everyone participating in the value engineering process, from the decision to add solar panels to the selection of interior materials and finishes.”
Ahlborg said the building committee had not dithered on decisions regarding colors and finishes, so the project had stayed on schedule.
“Color selections on a few alternatives that we had suggested, the committee’s been right there to make the decisions we need in a timely manner to keep the project moving smoothly,” he said.