New elementary school won't be open in time

The new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center won't be ready when classes start Aug. 17. The school district has tentatively planned to open the building after Labor Day weekend. Enlarge photo

August 5, 2010

On Tuesday, Baldwin City parents and students found out that their new school building wouldn’t be open Aug. 17 for the first day of elementary classes.

It was district-wide enrollment day on Tuesday, but that’s when the news was given to parents and students at Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center. When entering BESPC, a sign told patrons that the new BESPC won’t be open for the first day of school.

“The construction management company met with Deb Ehling-Gwin on Monday,” Supt. Paul Dorathy said. “They talked about where they thought they were as far as the timeline for completing the school. They felt that some of the things that had occurred over time were going to make it extremely difficult to have us moved in by the first day of school.

“Then we started looking at if that didn’t happen, when would be the best time to move,” he said. “We looked at the different weekends and we thought that Labor Day weekend, being a longer weekend, would give us a better chance to get things moved into the new building. We are looking, tentatively, at that being the move-in date.”

Since the new building won’t be open when elementary classes begin Aug. 17, the district has planned for a couple of weeks of change. All of the 4-year-old classes in the district will be going to the current BESPC, located at 700 Chapel St. Also going to that building will be the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classes.

The third-grade students will be attending BESIC until the new BESPC is open. Once the new school is open, they will move into that building for the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year.

“Then all of those students would move into the new building on Labor Day weekend, hopefully, and probably starting Sept. 8,” Dorathy said. “We are thinking about having Sept. 7 as a transition day for the staff.”

A lot of the outside work at the new BESPC has been completed, but there is still significant amount of work on the inside left to finish. Although moving in after the school year has started isn’t ideal, Dorathy said it can be done.

“It will be a transition,” Dorathy said. “It’s not the best, but we can make it work. It’s not the first time school districts have done that. Yes, we’re disappointed that the building isn’t going to be ready, but I also think we were pushing on a timeline that was probably not going to happen. I think we just had too much winter snow and too much spring rain. It just caught up to us.

“I think it should go smoothly,” he said. “We’re prepped for it. We were prepped for this to happen. We were planning on what we would do if it weren’t open on the first day. We’re ready for it to happen.”

BESPC Principal Deb Ehling-Gwin agreed that the delay will create problems, but the staff will work around them.

“The delays to the new building are not unexpected,” she said. “It is disappointing and it presents several challenges, but we are up for those challenges. When we do move in, we know it will be 100 percent complete. It is a beautiful building and we’re excited about moving in to it.”

One of the advantages of opening at a later date is some smaller projects might be completed by the first day of school.

“I think there were some things like landscaping that we knew wouldn’t make the original timeline that now have an opportunity to be completed before we open the doors,” Dorathy said. “We will actually be able to gain some things when the kids move into the building.”

Elementary classes in the district will have half days on Aug. 17 and 18. The entire district will have full days of school on Aug. 19.

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