Guilford Co. School Board terminates McNair’s contractor

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BROWNS SUMMIT, N.C. -- After a series of problems with construction at Ronald E. McNair Elementary School, Guilford County’s School board voted to terminate the general contractor, Farley Associates, before finishing the project.

The new school building has power, water and air conditioning but still needs the finishing touches like paint, floors and landscaping, according to Executive Director of Facilities Robert Melton.

“I’d say it’s 90% done, but not ready for all classes yet,” said Melton adding, “We will be completing Ronald E. McNair Elementary School, we just don’t have a time frame today.”

Melton says he knows parents are getting impatient, but the delays are due to construction issues. Several subcontractors have claimed nonpayment, the contractor missed several deadlines for completion and now, says the school system, they were unable to settle on a reasonable new plan for completion.

“I don’t know what the problem is, I’m not a contractor and I try not to get into that aspect. But I just know it’s been a real trying time for my child to go through these changes,” said parent Thalia Austin.

Frustrated with the original contractors, Austin said sending her first grade son to a different school means earlier mornings and later day care.

“ I think it’s a change for everybody, not one that I’m real happy about.  But there’s nothing I can do. Just adjust and make the best of it,” said Austin.

Melton says hiring a new contractor to finish McNair is now up to the surety, the project’s insurance company.

“The surety company has the final say on how to complete the project. They can select a contractor, or they can direct us to do that as well,” said Melton.

The $25 million dollar project is funded by the 2008 school bond Guilford County voters passed.

The school was originally set to be complete this past summer and then August. This month, payment problems with subcontractors pushed the finish date to Halloween.

“As long as it’s done and done right, my child’s safe where he’s at. We thought it’d be a couple of months,” said Austin.