DRACUT -- CTA Construction is making progress this summer toward meeting the company's contractual obligation to completing the new $60 million high school by Sept. 4, the first day of the new school year, School Committee Chairman Michael McNamara said Monday.
A public grand-opening celebration, which school officials have promised to give residents a first look inside the 220,000-square-foot structure, will take place some time after school opens, McNamara said.
"We want to make absolutely sure the building is going to be 100 percent finished before we have that open house and welcome the community to the high school," said McNamara, who is also the School Committee's representative on the Permanent Building Committee.
With 45 days before school starts, there was no word of any glitches that would prevent the completion of the high school, McNamara said.
To safeguard the district's interests in having CTA abide by its contractual timetable, however, the Permanent Building Committee recently "put CTA on notice" that the board has requested the bonding company contact CTA's owners to ensure the timely completion of the project, McNamara said.
"It seems that since we did put CTA on notice they really ramped up their progress," McNamara said. "They certainly don't want to see their bond being called for just not following the contract, and we're definitely seeing better progress at this point.
As described by CTA on its website, the new Dracut High School project involves transforming 138,000 square feet of pre-existing building space into updated classrooms, a new library and a new cafeteria.
The CTA-built addition to the school consists of 82,630 square feet of new classrooms, a new auditorium, and new gymnasium and locker rooms.
The auditorium, which is being built as part of the final construction phase this summer, is a source of special anticipation for DHS Principal Richard Manley and the school community, as he expressed in the spring edition of the district's newsletter, The Lighthouse.
"The new theater, with state-of-the art sound, lighting, and air conditioning, will provide an exciting and entertaining venue worthy of the many fine performances of the Dracut schools and community," Manley wrote.
The School Committee plans to discuss the school's construction progress at the board's next meeting in August, McNamara said.
In other news for parents preparing for the new school year, Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone announced that through an open-bid process, the public schools selected the Greater Lowell Family YMCA as the district's provider of before- and after-school childcare at the town's four elementary schools: Brookside, Campbell, Englesby and Greenmont.
In an open letter to parents, Greater Lowell Family YMCA's director of operations, Kevin Morrissey, highlighted the School Age program's core philosophy, activity offerings, and before- and after-school child-care rates.
The YMCA's Before School program costs $50 per child for five days. After-school care is $135 for five days.
A sibling discount of 15 percent is offered.
Follow John Collins on Twitter and Tout at johncolowellsun.