The renovation of Sophie B. Wright Charter School’s building on Napoleon Avenue is moving along more slowly than planned, with the school soliciting bids for renovation just last week — more than three months later than planned.
This spring, a staffer suggested that quick work could get students in by next school year. The Recovery School District doesn’t expect that to happen until the summer of 2016, according to spokeswoman Zoey Reed.
Ray Martin, who lives behind the school on Jena Street, said the vacant building is starting to look blighted. “The grass is getting tall; there’s garbage everywhere,” he said. “Everybody else around here keeps their yard nice, and it’s becoming an eyesore.”
Martin said he’s worried that the repairs will cost too much and the building will remain unused. “I would hope that the school comes back and is revitalized, but I don’t want a big empty building just sitting there,” he said.
The Sophie B. Wright board learned in March that workers gutting the building found more problems than they expected, including termite damage in four roof trusses.
Still, the board planned to solicit bids in April for the renovation. That was delayed because of a holdup in getting approval from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Reed said. The building on Napoleon, which was built in 1912, is eligible for listing on a historic registry, and FEMA must take special steps in such cases.
The Lens tried to reach all school board members, as well as principal Sharon Clark and dean of students Lawrence Vinnett, for comment, but was unsuccessful.
While the Napoleon building is being worked on, the school is using the former James Weldon Johnson Elementary campus at 1800 Monroe St. in the Leonidas neighborhood.