Dothan Preparatory Academy, formerly Dothan High School, has been referred as the school district’s “monster,” referring to the scope of deferred maintenance and capital improvement needed at the site.
Jeff Prine, Dothan City School’s contracted project manager for the restructuring project, said that $5 million out of the $15 million capital improvement bond is being used at the Dothan Prep campus.
“This has been our challenge. We all knew going into this that this was going to be our challenge,” Prine said Friday at the beginning of a group tour of Dothan Prep. “As we walk through, I’ll share with you some of the things that we kind of didn’t know about that we’ve had to deal with that have kind of slowed us down to some degree.”
The Alabama Building Commission came through with the fire marshal on Wednesday and noted a few minor things that would need to fixed before the district can obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
A CO states a building’s legal use and/or type of permitted occupancy. New buildings must have a CO, and existing buildings must have a current or amended CO when there is a change in use, egress, or type of occupancy.
“For all intents and purposes, we’re on a green light toward getting out CO if we address the few things they’ve asked of us,” Prine said.
Despite some minor delays however, all construction is on pace and on schedule, Prine said.
“Everything is tracking. We don’t see any reason that we won’t have the classrooms and everything ready for students,” Prine said. “We may have some things that won’t be complete, but we’ll be ready to operate when teachers and students arrive.”
Prine took Superintendent Phyllis Edwards, school board officials, board members, and Dothan city commissioners on a walk-through of the construction site.
He showed larger classrooms in the ninth grade building that had been subdivided to produce two smaller classrooms. Ceiling grids were installed to be outfitted with new LED lighting, along with new windows in many areas of the complex.
One of the problems Prine mentioned was drainage in the courtyard. Several days of rain resulted in flooding into the basement area that formerly housed the JROTC program.
During an investigation, contractors determined a dysfunctional drainage system as the culprit.
“The rain leaders coming off the roof didn’t even tie into a storm drain system,” Prine said. “None of it worked.”
The drain that attached to the kitchen was filled with grease and had to be emptied, and the drainage system had to be re-engineered to lead out of the courtyard, Prine said.
The basement area of the old JROTC building has been completely reconfigured to host a conference room, classes for the gifted program LinC, an Isolated School Suspension (ISS) room, and office space for instructional coaches.
The firing range had been gutted and reconfigured to make four decent-sized classroom spaces.
The school bus pick-up and drop-off zone, freshly painted with directional arrows, was moved to the back of the school.
Darius McKay said that around 30 buses will be staged every afternoon in the same spot so roughly 1,200 students can immediately board after the dismissal bell.
Students who do have their drivers’ licenses are being asked not to bring their vehicles to campus.
Prine also walked the tour group through the back building that used to be home to the science lab and some computer labs. It will now house elective and career exploration courses, including JROTC.
Today, those driving by can see the freshly installed Dothan Preparatory Academy sign in front of the school. New signage is being placed on the Dothan City School buildings through next week.
“We’re scheduled to have all the asphalt down for the roadway, re-sealing of the parking areas, and all the re-paving of the roads in front of the high school – Dothan Prep – by the end of next week,” Prine added.
New sod and some landscaping will have to be completed in the front of the building, finishing up the exterior projects.
“It’s amazing and long overdue,” Dothan City Commissioner Albert Kirkland said at the end of the tour.
Dothan Prep’s open house is scheduled for Aug. 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.