Sag School Board Frustrated by Learning Center Timeline

The former Stella Maris Regional School as it appeared in June 2017.

Ed Bernhauer, a senior architectural designer with IBI Group, distributed a schedule showing Sag Harbor residents and the Sag Harbor School District Board of Education the progress of the already delayed Sag Harbor Learning Center building on Division Street at Monday night’s School Board meeting.

As recently as mid-August, it was expected prekindergarten students in the Sag Harbor School District would have classes in the Learning Center when school began on September 4. In late August, the IBI Group announced the building would not be ready until November — and on Monday pushed that date back even further, to December, at the earliest.

At the August 26 meeting, Board of Education members and Superintendent Katy Graves urged Mr. Bernhauer to send a more detailed milestone schedule of the work in an effort to keep the public informed.

Ms. Graves handed the board members and audience a one-sided sheet of paper with substantial completion dates. It listed “site work” as slated for October 15 completion. The “lower level” should be finished on November 22, the “main level” on December 11, and the gym, Sage Hall, is estimated to be done on December 20.

The anticipated building turn-over to the district for final preparations for the lower level is December 2, with turn-over of the main level being on December 19, and Sage Hall on December 20.

On Monday, board members said they felt the schedule did not include enough information.

“I am so alarmed at the state of this, frankly,” board member Chris Tice said. “A four-month project is now an eight-and-a-half-month project — and we found out about most of the delays after we were supposed to take possession.”

Board member Alex Kriegsman added that at the last meeting, the board requested a milestone schedule of the progress, with details and specific dates.

“To me, respectfully, this doesn’t look like a construction schedule. It doesn’t give us the ability to do what we need to do.

“I’ve seen and worked with construction schedules,” he said, calling what was submitted to the board “vague by just stating substantial completion.” He said they’d like to have the details broken down so that the board doesn’t have to wait until December to find out if they’re on target or not.

Mr. Kriegsman said the timeline should be several pages long, laying out details of the electrical work, HVAC system, plumbing, drywall, spackling, fixtures and irrigation.

To that, Mr. Bernhauer said the contractor should be reaching “substantial completion” at different time frames for different areas of the building in November. From there, IBI would begin their inspections, allowing the district to move in sometime in December.

Mr. Bernhauer also sent the board members a more detailed list on Saturday night; however, board member Chris Tice said many of those dates go out to December 31 and don’t coincide with the timeline handed out at Monday’s meeting.

“I’m confused as to how the main level is being turned over to us on the 19th if, between the 18th and 24th, it says ‘install doors and hardware,’” Ms. Tice said. “Obviously, we’re not going to move our stuff in until the final cleaning.”

Mr. Bernhauer said that the district could occupy the space while certain things were being finished up.

“This doesn’t make sense,” Ms. Tice replied. “You wouldn’t turn over a house for someone to move in in this state. I’m just concerned that this spreadsheet we got is back loaded with all of this stuff after we’ve taken possession. It’s not logical.”

In July, the IBI Group knew there would be a delay in certain deliveries, including trim, lighting, fire alarms, and security doors. Ms. Tice and the other board members questioned why the group didn’t update the timeline and inform the public of the milestone work until two weeks after they were supposed to move in.

“I’m not trying to beat up on you. But we have community members coming here and asking us what’s going on, and who’s responsible for it — and, frankly, it’s us,” Mr. Kriegsman added. “We’re hearing how late it is, and you didn’t have an updated schedule for three months. It’s pretty troubling.”

In other School Board news, Ms. Graves gave an update on enrollment. “I cannot give the official district enrollment until October 2,” she said. According to data collected by Western Suffolk BOCES, Suffolk and Nassau counties are seeing a trend: The number of births is going down.

“During the years of 2011 to 2014, it’s not huge, but we had a small baby boom take place,” Ms. Graves said.

According to Ms. Graves, in 2018, 951 students were enrolled in the district. The estimated enrollment for 2019 is 943 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. As of Friday, the district had 28 tuitioning students, 24 Wainscott School students, and six Sagaponack School students.

Due to the new immunization law put into place in June in New York State, requiring students in public, private and parochial schools to be vaccinated, school nurses in the district have been working with families on mandatory immunizations prior to September 17. A letter from Ms. Graves with a supporting memo from the school’s attorney was sent out to each family with a gap in immunizations on Tuesday.