ANAMOSA — Wednesday will be the first day of school for most students in the Anamosa school district. But for about 350 students who will attend the new $16.6 million Anamosa Middle School, the academic year won’t begin until Monday.
Monday night, the school board voted to push back the start date at the new building, which will house students in grades five through eight.
Teachers were able to enter the school last Friday, but the final state inspection is not yet complete and students aren’t allowed in until that’s done.
Construction Manager Kevin Lauver of Septagon Construction attributed the hiccup to “a miscommunication between the electrician and the electrical inspector.” The district was waiting on a facilitywide inspection — a necessary final step before the state can issue the final occupancy permit and allow classes to begin. Lauver expects it will be completed Wednesday.
Officials are exploring the idea of adding about four minutes to each school day in order to make up the days middle-school students will miss as a result of the delay.
“If we do it that way, I don’t think we’re making up two days of instructional time,” Superintendent Brian Ney said. “We’re making up two days of instructional minutes.”
Board members discussed that plan as an alternative to adding two additional full days of class, solely for middle-school students, at the end of the year. Tom Dimmer, whose twin boys will begin fifth grade at the new school, criticized that plan.
“It’s not the kids’ fault we’re running behind,” he said. “If you’re going to add the days, I think you have to add them during the middle of the year. Anything else is a waste of resources and budget.”
Even though the inspection is anticipated to be completed Wednesday, delaying school until next week allows teachers more time to prepare for the beginning of the year.
There are no district plans in place to provide child care for the 350 students who won’t have anywhere to go for the rest of the week while their school prepares to open. That includes students from the neighboring Olin Consolidated school district, which is participating in its first middle-school student share with Anamosa this year.
“That will be up to the parents,” Ney said about alternative supervision.
Construction of the new middle school began in May 2011, 75 days later than scheduled but with the same end date intact. Ney and Lauver said a typical schedule would have placed the opening of the middle school in October, adding about 10 weeks onto the project’s timeline. But the process was expedited to meet the August deadline.
Some remaining work, referred to as a “punch list,” will still need to be completed once students are in the building. Those “minor details” include paint and vinyl base touchups, Lauver said, as well as work on the sidewalk.
“Considering we’ve shaved two months off of the schedule, it should be a workable situation,” he added.