It might be a little cramped for the first few months as students settle in at Arlington’s Dorothy Hamm Middle School. But exactly when the school’s in-the-works expansion will be ready remains up in the air.
County school officials have known for months that the expansion of the school won’t be ready for occupancy when classes begin in September, meaning students will only be able to use the existing portion of the building for the first few months of the 2019-20 school year.
School officials have blamed the exceptionally wet weather of 2018 with slowing progress on the $39 million project.
Superintendent Patrick Murphy in late May told School Board members that the projected opening of the addition most likely would be in December, but a week later acknowledged that was too optimistic. “I may have been working off an old timeline,” he said on June 6.
On its Website, the school system now pegs completion of the expansion at next March, but John Chadwick, the system’s assistant superintendent for facilities, gave himself a little more wiggle room when speaking to School Board members on June 6. Chadwick said the opening could come “sometime between January and March or April.”
The delays only will have an impact on the new portion of the building; work to make the existing school ready for incoming students is on track. Because initial enrollment is expected to be less than the school’s 1,000-student capacity (counting the addition) of sixth- to eighth-graders, the squeeze won’t be as tight as it might have been had enrollment been at or above capacity.
Hamm Middle School will occupy the campus of what has been the H-B Woodlawn Program and the Stratford Program, which are moving to a new building in Rosslyn next September. Both that building and the new Alice West Fleet Elementary School, being constructed adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, will be ready to open on time in September, Murphy said.