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Construction delays push back start of school

School start date delayed with construction surprises



LAUREL – Perhaps some things are inevitable - death, taxes and construction projects taking longer than anticipated.

At its meeting last week, the Laurel-Concord-Coleridge School Board approved changes to the upcoming school year calendar due to delays experienced on the new school facility construction project.

Students will start the 2023-24 school year about one week later than anticipated.

Those in fifth through 12th grades will start Wednesday, Aug. 23; pre-kindergarten and Level 3 students will start Thursday, Aug. 24; kindergarten through fourth-grade students will start Friday, Aug. 25.

Corresponding dates for teacher and staff professional development and the Back to School Night orientations have been adjusted.

The end of the school year will also be effected by the late start. The new last day of school was set to Thursday, May 23, 2024. Class of 2024 graduation date remains unchanged at Saturday, May 11, 2024.

One of the main reasons for pushing back the start date is flooring for the new school facility.

Elevated interior humidity levels passed the threshold required by the adhesive product used in installation, said Superintendent Jeremy Christiansen.

The general contractors were delayed in receiving a valve for the boiler system responsible for regulating humidity levels.

“That issue has now been remedied and the humidity levels are steadily coming down,” Christiansen said. “In addition, installers adjusted to use an adhesive product with a higher humidity threshold for early portions of flooring installation.”

The flooring subcontractor has committed to additional workers and an expedited timeline.

During construction work, crews revealed some surprises about the school’s existing structure, Christiansen said.

During demolition and excavation, an underground space was located that had been part of a former school building.

“There are a handful of local patrons who have shared memories of that space,” Christiansen said with the space used both as a gym and for classroom space.

The former space appears to have been filled in with sand.

“Project engineers have identified how best to approach this unexpected finding with minimal adjustment to project plans or costs,” he said.

Ongoing construction has revealed other issues related to the school’s existing structures.

Following the removal of asbestos and ceiling deck in the hallway leading from the office to the gym, rust and compromised bar joists were discovered in sections of the original ceiling deck.

Other aging infrastructure has come to light including the rooftop HVAC unit for the Legacy Gym, and some flashing and venting on the elementary roof.

The district is waiting on estimates for HVAC replacement and still assessing elementary roof and ceiling deck issues, Christiansen said.

“The above issues would be considered existing challenges and not directly caused by the construction project.  However, they are related and will be necessary to address moving forward,” he said. “For each of these challenges, we are currently in the process of assessing and determining the best and most cost effective approach to solution.”

In other action, the board approved the purchase of a 14-passenger minibus for nearly $120,000.

One van from the school’s fleet was not replaced after it was sold at auction and another van is becoming more questionable for regular activity trips, Christiansen said.

The minibus, located in Bismarck, N.D., will be delivered once seat installation is completed. Christiansen plans to get quotes for a partial vehicle wrap so it is identified similarly to other LCC vehicles.

The board also reviewed its policies to determine relevance and effectiveness, Christiansen said. Changes are made in response to recent state legislation, federal and state guidelines, as well as court decisions relevant to public schools.