By Tina Comeau
As of last week, a new high school on Forest Street still had yet to be turned over to the Tri-County Regional School Board, but the board’s director of operations, Steve Stoddart, says the plan is still to start moving materials into the school the first week of August in preparation for a September opening.
In saying that, however, students will start classes at the new high school a few days later than other students will at their respective Tri-County schools. The first day of class at the new high school – which will still be called Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School – will be Monday, Sept. 10.
The first day of school for students attending other Tri-County board schools is Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Custodians from the school board have been inside the new building cleaning it in preparation for the moving-in phase, says Stoddart.
“The plan is to start moving the teachers’ things in the first week of August and for the school to be ready for the September opening,” he says.
Asked if there is a possibility the school won’t be ready or set up in time for the planned September opening, Stoddart says it has to be because there isn’t a backup option.
“It has to be ready,” he says, saying the school board has officially closed the Yarmouth high and junior high schools on Parade Street and materials have been packed up in boxes. The new school will be a Grade 9-12 school.
“We don’t have a Grade 9-12 school to go back to if this school doesn’t open in September,” says Stoddart. “It’s going to be a September opening because there is no turning back.”
In the early stages of construction at the high school there was talk that the school would be completed by March 2012. But delays in construction along the way – caused by various factors such as torrential rain in the fall of 2010, a crane collapse in late January 2011 and a break-in and theft at the construction site last winter – pushed back the timeframe for completion of the school. There has also been some issue of liens filed against contractors because of non-payment for work that has been carried out. The Department of Education told the Vanguard recently the money from the province has been flowing according to schedule.
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The school will have new desks and furniture in it, although there will be some things used from the schools on Parade Street, such as filing cabinets. Regarding the furniture in the empty schools on Parade Street, Stoddart says, “Right now the principals from other schools are going through it see if there is anything that they need in their schools, that is the first process of surplus material. Then once that is all finished in September I’ll have to go through the schools with my department to do an inventory and see what we’ve got and what process we’re going to do to get rid of the rest of the material.”
He said in cases of other schools there have public auctions or yard sales.
Meanwhile, asked if the public will get a chance to tour the school before it opens for classes, Stoddart says this is something the board is looking at.
“We’ve had a lot of inquiries from the public, as you can imagine,” he says, but he says the school has to be officially turned over to the school board and not deemed a construction site any longer, and the moving process also has to take place, before the school board can make any firm plans.