EDITORíS DESK: Another sag in the auditorium saga

       It had been quiet. Too quiet. Half a year had gone by without a new delay or added expense on the star-crossed Coronado High auditorium construction project. Even a check in May had found no change in the status the school district had announced last winter - a project cost of $4.9 million and a completion date of Aug. 4, which would be well before the 2008-09 school year started.
       Maybe, just maybe, the problems were all in the past... like the initial 2004 bond-issue estimate of $1.4 million that had proved to be way too low... or the discovery last November of the unaccountably ungrouted cement blocks in the original exterior walls from 1970, which led to a half-year delay and a disappointed Class of '08 (the original schedule had called for the shiny new facility to be ready at least by December '07).
       So I was kind of holding my breath a little when I put in a phone call on the project this week. Surely, with the work so close to completion... I mean, a person could see the progress driving by on Fillmore Street... surely, nothing could go wrong now. There was just that final fire inspection, and why should that be a problem? The plans had already been approved once...
       Yes, but not in conjunction with the west half of the building - separate from the project but still sharing a common wall with the new auditorium half. Fire inspectors logically concluded that safety goals would not be served by sprinkling just the new side. So, why had this not been thought of before? Who knows? Maybe the project just needs an exorcist. In any case, it's encouraging to know that D-11 Facilities Director Mike Maloney has still not given up on the auditorium being ready for the school year. But from talking to Jeff Brisk, the contractor's project superintendent, there seems to be little wiggle room. We'll stay tuned, but not in an oh-boy- bad-news sort of way. This project from heck will be finished someday (won't it?), and when it is, it will be a credit to Coronado and the Westside. Here's to better news.

- K.J.