Charleston County school leaders say they’re doing all they can to finish the new James Simons Elementary School building by the first day of school this fall.

The county school board approved 9-0 on Thursday to spend an undisclosed amount of money to accelerate construction work at the downtown school. The additional funds still will fall within the total project budget of $27.4 million.

“If it’s not going over budget, let’s do everything in our power to open the school on time,” said school board Chairman Cindy Bohn Coats.

The extra money will help pay overtime for the site’s more than 100 workers, who will go from 50-hour work weeks to 60-hour work weeks. District leaders should know by June 11 whether they’ll be able to make their target of the first day of school.

The county school board promised in 2010 that all four of the downtown schools with seismic problems would be rebuilt by fall 2013. They’re on track to make good on that promise at the three other sites - Buist Academy, Charleston Progressive, and Memminger Elementary.

Officials said James Simons was delayed because of the community engagement around the type of program it would offer when it reopened. The new school will have a Montessori focus.

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