Britt Williams, president of Baird Williams Construction and general contractor for several construction projects—including the modernization of Hutto Elementary School, the Ninth Grade Center and the transportation facility—said issues obtaining building supplies and the workforce to continue construction has delayed completion of these projects.
"COVID hasn't helped; supply chain issues have absolutely killed things. And then when we can finally get materials, there's no manpower to put it together," Williams said. "So we identified relatively early this summer that the entirety of the building was not going to be able to be pulled together."
Williams said while each student will be able to have their own desk and chair on campus this year, the building's administrative wing, cafeteria and "C" classroom wing would not be suitable for students to be in until the campus is fully habitable. He said three wings of classrooms and collaboration spaces, two portables and the school's gym would be ready for use before the first day of school. The unfinished parts of the campus will continue with construction throughout the school day, as it did during the spring semester this year.
All fire safety and life safety requirements have been met or will be before students occupy the completed buildings, Williams said. Barring any other delays, construction could be completed by the time students return from Thanksgiving break this fall. All materials to finish construction have been acquired, Williams said, and are either stored on campus or with subcontractors working on the project.
Similarly, a yet-to-be-identified issue with the Ninth Grade Center's track, which has begun cracking in one section, according to Williams, must be investigated before rubber can be poured over the top. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Henry Gideon said this must be done because if there is an underlying issue with the soil beneath the track causing the pavement to crack so soon after it's been poured, the issue could continue after the rubber has been poured.
"We all live in an area of Texas where these asphalt parking lots and roads, over time, move," Gideon said. "We've paid a lot of money to make sure this doesn't move. So as you begin to see evidence of mirroring taking place in the asphalt, if you cover that with your rubber track, you're gonna see the same thing as it goes up."
The district is in the process of determining what may need to happen with the track, up to and including removing that section and repaving it, to have it ready for track season.
General contractors for Hutto Memorial Stadium said the project has been delayed—particularly in the process of adding seating—by weather. The plan was to be ready to host games in the newly renovated stadium with seating in place after Sept. 9, but 34 build days were lost to bad weather, Joeris Construction Vice President Burton Hackney told the board. With the rainy conditions, they were unable to pour the deep concrete foundational supports of the stadium seating.
Hackney said the Sept. 9 date has been shifted to Oct. 11, just in time for the district's Homecoming game on Oct. 15. In the meantime, Gideon said the district is working with nearby districts to secure the use of their facilities while construction continues. The first game against College Station High School will be held at the Pflugerville ISD Pfield Aug. 26. The district's Sept. 10 home game against Temple has also been rescheduled for Sept. 10 at the Temple stadium. Similarly, the Sept. 17 game against Westwood High School will be held at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Round Rock.
"Although we are disappointed with construction delays due to unseasonable weather conditions, we remain very confident in our contractors and our architects and their ability to deliver a quality project for our student athletes, our HHS student body, and our Hippo Nation community,” Gideon said in a statement from the district. “The key right now is to make up time as we enter into a drier period and to ensure the construction site is safe to access for all concerned. While construction will be ongoing, we anticipate having full use of the track and turf, and we have plans in place to have our visitor section completed so that sub-varsity games can proceed as scheduled on the athletic calendar."
Sub-varsity games will continue at Hutto Memorial Stadium as scheduled, with all fans using the visitors' side stands, according to the district.