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August 27. 2014 8:54PM

Unity Elementary School off to late start

UNITY — The start of school for Unity Elementary School students has been delayed a week.

The school board made the decision Tuesday night after meeting with the school construction team.

In an interview Tuesday, Trumbull-Nelson executive vice president Ronald Bauer said he was confident the school would be ready to open next Tuesday.

“We’re going through the inspection process very nicely,” Bauer said. “The state has been great with helping us get the building inspected and getting it online.”

Though the school is nearly complete and expected to receive its occupancy permit from the fire marshal’s office Thursday, Unity Elementary School principal Chip Baldwin said Wednesday that some parents at the meeting Tuesday night expressed concerns that the school would not be thoroughly cleaned of the construction dirt and dust before Tuesday. The parents also wanted to ensure teachers had time to get into the school and prepare before classes start.

To address those concerns board members agreed to start school Sept. 8, Baldwin said.

The school’s opening will be the end of an eight-year saga for the small school district, Baldwin said. The school district tried for four years to get a bond approved for the project until code violations finally pushed the issue.

In August 2010, voters approved a $4.7 million bond to build the new school for Unity children in kindergarten through eighth grade at a special meeting after state officials ordered Unity Elementary School closed due to numerous unresolved fire and building code violations.

Architect Scott Vaughn, who initially helmed the building project, said the new school would be complete and ready for students for the start of the 2012 school year. When it wasn’t done, the state fire marshal’s office and Department of Education granted a one-year waiver so the old elementary school could be used for another year.

In March 2013, voters approved an additional $550,000 bond to fund what Vaughn said was unanticipated site work.

In July 2013, the state fire marshal’s office placed a stop work order on construction. The old school had already been demolished so Claremont elementary and middle schools accommodated the Unity students and teachers for the 2013-14 school year.

To finish the project, the school board brought in construction company Trumbull-Nelson in February to complete the job and asked Unity voters to approve an additional $2.75 million for the project, which voters overwhelmingly approved in March.

mpierce@newstote.com


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