New Indian Land High School plagued by delays, racing clock to open

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Students are supposed to walk through the doors of the new Indian Land High School on Aug. 16.

Even the superintendent of Lancaster Schools admits it’ll be a minor miracle if they are ready for classes.

“I feel as confident as I can knowing the school should have been ready a year ago,” said Superintendent Jonathan Phipps.

[Residential development planned in Indian Land]

The $100 million school is so far behind schedule that the class of 2021 was supposed to graduate from there the past school year.

Instead, construction teams are scrambling to get the campus ready to open next month.

There are lots of reasons why the project hit so many snags.

Rain delays early on slowed work for months.

COVID-19 cases kept workers off the job site and at least one subcontractor went bankrupt.

Then, there was an issue with the land itself.

Removing rock from the property near the highway proved to be more expensive as the project moved forward.

“We were told, ‘Yeah, there’s some rock there, but it’s just in spots, and there’s rock everywhere in that Indian area,’” Phipps said.

The removal cost $11 million above the budget, which has not been completed.

There’s still an issue under the baseball fields, which can’t be graded until more work is done.

“Last week, they called us and said, ‘Unfortunately, we’re going to have to do more blasting.’ And of course, that scared me, because I’m thinking, ‘We’re getting ready to have it inspected,’” Phipps said.

The campus has already failed one safety inspection but fortunately it is a minor list of corrections that will be taken care of.

School officials said state inspectors have been looking over the campus and demanding changes since May.

That process is still ongoing.

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The new campus is on Highway 521 about five miles south of the current Indian Land High School, which is closer to Lancaster.

About 1,600 students hope to start their new school year there.

If there’s no certificate of occupancy in hand by opening day, they may use only part of the building while the rest is finished so it can earn a passing grade.

That is a worst-case scenario.

Phipps hopes the grand opening ceremony, which is planned for Aug. 7, can still be held.

Channel 9 contacted the general contractor, Cleveland Construction.

A spokesperson said it wasn’t appropriate to comment on the school project.