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Mix-up stalls WSN work

Wrong bricks installed; move postponed

A building mistake means it will be months before students can begin classes in the new W.S. Neal High School building.

Escambia County school board members learned Thursday that contractors installed the wrong color bricks on a portion of the building. Now, it will be after the first of the year before the area on the front of the building can be reinstalled, said Walter McKee of McKee and Associations.

The delay pushes the facility’s occupation date to possibly March; however, Superintendent John Knott said he was hesitant to discuss a move-in date.

Students were expected to begin the second semester in the new building.

“We have missed a few deadlines, but our goal is to have a quality facility made to last,” Knott said. “We want a facility that is there for students and community for many years to come.”

The mismatched brick was discovered approximately two weeks ago after it was determined that the bricks were the wrong color.

McKee gave the board two options – stain the installed brick or reinstall it.

“I say if you wouldn’t (stain the bricks) on your own home, then we shouldn’t do it for the school,” said board member Cindy Jackson as the board agreed to have the brick reinstalled.

McKee said some 17,000 new bricks are currently being made by a Mobile company for the job.

“I assure the board that the bricks will match before we accept the new school,” McKee said. “Otherwise, the project is coming along nicely.”

McKee said Phase III of the project, which includes a renovated auditorium and girls’ athletic facility, should be completed the first part of the summer.

“Looking at the big picture, we’re not where we wanted to be,” McKee said. “If we can get the bricks in February or March, by the start of the new school year there won’t be a construction crew in sight of W.S. Neal.”