Standing on the roof of Catoctin HS, I admired the incredible view. However, I also got a close up look at some of the complex challenges faced by members of our Construction Management Department.
When I think about school construction, I immediately think of the beautiful new buildings that will open in a few weeks—Butterfly Ridge ES and Sugarloaf ES. The project managers from our Construction Management Department have done an incredible job ensuring these buildings are ready to open for students and staff. However, the Construction Management Department oversees not only new construction, but also systemic projects. Systemic projects can include things such as replacing roofs, installing new HVAC equipment, or paving school parking lots. This summer, the Construction Management Department is overseeing 22 projects across the county! With 7 members in the department, it makes for a very busy summer!
I was able to catch up with Mr. Roger Fritz, Construction Management Director, and Mr. Tom Mulligan, Project Manager at Catoctin HS. Tom is managing a complex systemic project—the first phase of the replacement of the HVAC system. What makes this project so complex? For starters, the original equipment from 1969 when CHS was built is being replaced! That’s right—we are putting 2018 equipment into a building that is nearly 50 years old! The original design to support the HVAC equipment is not ideal as it was in the “catwalk” area between the roof of the building and the ceiling in the school—a tight, cramped space that makes maintenance and repair an extreme challenge. The new equipment will be placed on top of the roof, and therefore required many new design features. And how about getting the equipment onto the roof? An exceptionally large crane drew lots of attention during the days it was on site, as it maneuvered equipment across the length of the building.
The other complex element for this HVAC replacement is due to a unique feature of Catoctin HS. It is the only school completely powered by electricity due to special rates offered through the town of Thurmont. The new electrical HVAC system also meant new electrical conduits and boxes being installed throughout the building. Whew!
Lastly, one of the challenges the Construction Management Department faces with every systemic project is the timeline. These projects have to be completed on time to ensure that school is ready to open! So, when I noted that there were still several weeks left, Tom laughed. He explained that the HVAC equipment had to be ready to go in 1 week so that the air conditioning is running before ceiling tiles are installed.
A project manager has to know the timeline, the details of each component of the project, and most importantly how to solve any unforeseen complication that could delay or affect the success of the project. FCPS is lucky to have project managers who bring lots of experience and collaborative spirits to their projects!
Please help me thank all of the outstanding people who undertake these critical projects for our students! Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And if you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.