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October 09. 2013 10:30PM

Unity school board sticking with architect

UNITY— Despite some calls for the school board to drop its elementary school building architect Tuesday night, the school board is sticking with Scott Vaughn, said Middletown McGoodwin Superintendent of SAU No. 6 in Claremont.
 
"The residents are frustrated and concerned that they've been waiting for some time for the building to be ready and their children to enter and in the past they have heard different deadlines that have not been met," McGoodwin said.
 
School Board members were concerned that switching architects at this point would be too costly, though, he said.
 
"Clearly all of us, including the architect, are frustrated," he said.
 
"The school board as of last night was concerned with considering the cost of ending the contract," with Vaughan, McGoodwin said, and then the cost of finding and hiring a new architect.
 
Construction of the new elementary school is on a stop order from the state fire marshal's office, he said, though some minor work to the floors and landscape has been able to continue at this time.
 
Vaughan has worked to keep the cost of the project down by designing several aspects of it himself, such as the windows that he designed and had built as opposed to purchasing more expensive ready-made windows.
 
"The architect is savings hundreds of thousands of dollars designing the windows himself and installing them," McGoodwin said.
 
However, designing the building as it is built means that the state fire marshal's office has to approve the plans as they are created, McGoodwin said.
 
For example, the fire marshal's office had questions about the custom-built windows.
 
"These answers have to be submitted to the state fire marshal before they will give the green light," McGoodwin said. "The building is about 80 to 90 percent complete and we are in the final stages."
 
Voters approved a $4.7 million bond to build the new school for Unity children in kindergarten through Grade 8 at an August 2010 special meeting after state officials ordered Unity Elementary School closed due to numerous unresolved fire and building code violations.
 
The new school should have been complete and ready for students last fall. But when it wasn't complete the state fire marshal's office and Department of Education granted a waiver to the building and fire code violations of the old elementary school so that it could be used for another year.
 
Voters approved an additional $550,000 bond in March to fund what Vaughan said was unanticipated site work.
 
Vaughan has managed the entire project.
 
In July, the school board announced the school would not be ready for the new school year.
 
Because the state would not issue another waiver and the old building was in the process of demolished, Unity School Board decided to bus students to both Disnard Elementary School in Claremont and Claremont Middle School.
 
McGoodwin said Wednesday the timeline of when Unity students can start using the new school is unclear.
 
Claremont school officials have been very accommodating and have said Unity students can remain the rest of the school year.
 
"It's something that no one is happy about. ... but the reality is our number one goal is to minimize the impact on the children."
 
 


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