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Freedom finally finished

Work on Freedom Elementary School was officially completed when the Lawton Board of Education approved the resolution of the one remaining item on the contractor's punch list.

The kindergarten through fifth-graders moved into the primary structure on May 1, 2015, and the pre-kindergartners along with a childhood development center moved into the new wing in time for the 2016-2017 school year. As with any project, especially a 210,000-square-foot facility, there were outstanding items to complete or resolve on the punch list for Harper Construction Company Inc.

On April 20, Jason Ridings of Boynton Williams & Associates Architects (BWA) briefed the Lawton Board of Education that there were 32 items left on the punch list for Harper to complete for the $45 million facility. Of the 32 items, there was one incomplete issue, 18 were work in progress and 13 nonconforming issues. 

By the Nov. 16 board meeting, the final item, a nonconforming issue involving the contractor's installation of battery-powered versus the requested hard-wired flush valves on all of the 125 toilets in the school, was resolved. 

"It was resolved that they (Harper) would pay $12,500 to the district," said Kyle Smith, the school district's operations executive director. "The architect, BWA, gave us an estimate on replacing batteries for the life of the building for those toilets and it came in roughly at $2,000 for 50 years ... so the board thought that would be a reasonable estimate."

Smith, who is looking to 2018 and the construction of a new Eisenhower Elementary School, said, "Freedom is an outstanding school; we have put a lot of time and money and effort into it. It is the best school that LPS has built to this point. We hope that Eisenhower Middle School will reach that standard and beyond."

A brief history of Freedom

Planning for the facility  funded by Lawton Public Schools and the Department of Defense  began in 2010 following an investigative report on military schools published by Newsweek. Fort Sill's elementary schools were later evaluated as needing replacement or repair on a prioritized list of approximately 30 schools on military installations in the United States.

With $37 million secured from the Department of Defense and $8 million provided from the district, ground was broken for the facility in April 2013. The building was built in two phases, a primary building and a wing. When the first phase was completed, kindergarten through fifth-grade students from the Geronimo Road and Sheridan Road elementary schools moved into the primary building on May 1, 2015. At that time, a punch list of items that Harper needed to complete was drawn up. 

The contractor completed the most crucial items on the list so the students could move in the school before summer break. But instead of being able to complete all those items on the list, the focus was on tearing down Geronimo Road Elementary School  where the second phase, the wing, would be built. 

The final wing housing the pre-kindergarten students and a childhood development center was completed in time for the start of the 2016-2017 school year. 

The Lawton Constitution

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