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Update: New Indian Land High School just about complete, set to open the first day of school

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 7:34 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -It was a race to the finish that is finally done.

Just one week away from the beginning of the new school year for many of our South Carolina districts and the multi-million-dollar new Indian Land High School is said to be complete.

There has been a list of delays include —the pandemic, rain, and the land the school is sitting on.

However, the district superintendent says there is only one minor problem left to fix before getting students through the doors.

On Monday, the superintendent told me they only have one thing to fix before getting a permanent occupancy certificate, which allows people to be inside the school.

They are hoping for it soon since the inspector is back here today for what they hope is the last inspection.

The superintendent is happy to report that everything involving the students and safety is 100 percent ready.

School leaders were so confident about the progress they held the open house over the weekend.

One parent, Danielle Kelley, was concerned just two weeks ago about the state of her four daughters’ - one junior and three freshmen - school.

Her concern was the new Indian Land High School being so delayed that her kids’ students’ first day of school would be online.

”It was very upsetting when I found out it might not open in time,” Kelley said two weeks ago. ”I’m not sure what they are going to do with all the kids with remote learning again which was not very successful last year.”

But the Monday after the open house, she is singing a different tune.

”Oh I’m very confident,” she explains. “Yeah, I’m very confident.”

After stepping foot into the school herself during the open house, Kelley’s concerns flew out the large windows of the new building.

”We’ve been waiting for this school to open for so long it’s nice that it’s finally here and it’s finally ready,” Kelley says.

When the start of school was just three weeks away from the beginning of the new school year for many of our South Carolina districts and the multi-million-dollar new Indian Land High School is still not complete.

The list of delays includes —the pandemic, rain, and the land the school is sitting on, but the district superintendent feels confident the school will open on time.

This school was years in the making. It was supposed to open last year and students missed out on that. So, one parent is skeptical it will open on time this year after hearing about more delays.

”I was like what?” said Kelley. “Yeah not happy, not happy.”

Kelley is feeling the pressure of the new school year already. Four of her kids—three freshman triplets and a junior—will be going to the brand-new Indian Land High School... when school starts back in 3 weeks--if the school is cleared to open.

”It’s very disappointing. It was supposed to open last year. It was very upsetting when I found out it might not open in time,” says Kelley.

Kelley says virtual schooling did not work for her kids so she worries that will be the next resort and after all the time spent together, she is ready for them to go.

”They’re ready to get away from me and I’m ready to get away from them,” she says.

There are three big reasons why this project has taken so long—rain, the pandemic and rock underneath the school.

The Lancaster County School district superintendent says there were a set amount of rain days built into the schedule before the project started, but he says there were many more than what was expected.

COVID caused entire crews to be out for long periods of time. The superintendent says they would have a schedule with 10 to 12 people on it and only two people would show up. Some of their subcontractors even when bankrupt because of the pandemic.

“We’re jumping through hoops to get everything done as fast as we can to get everybody in,” says Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Phipps.

The biggest and most expensive problem was the rock around the school. The superintendent says there was much more rock around the front entrance and around the school than expected. The cost to remove it was 11 million more dollars than originally expected and the work took much longer to complete.

”I would rather be racing the clock at every turn and during all the seconds than to have it not be safe,” he says.

Despite the hard hats and heavy machinery still occupying the campus, Phipps is confident students will be packing the classrooms.

”The number one priority is making sure the students get in,” he says. “We feel good about the students being able to get in. We feel like we have a few weeks.”

It is a race against the clock and it is not going to be easy. The school has already failed one inspection—another set to release Tuesday. Phipps says they might block the areas that need small fixes.

”That is a worst-case scenario. But the major parts of the building have passed,” says Phipps.

To him, and Kelley, the new school will all be worth it.

”It is absolutely gorgeous so I think the issues will be alleviated once people can see,” says Phipps.

”The school is beautiful so hopefully they’ll be starting august 16 with everybody else,” says Kelley.

This project has been years in the making. It is a $100 million project and the school is supposed to house 1,600 students. It is a part of a growing community.

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