The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 1:00 am

New NACS elementary delayed a year

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Students eager to attend Northwest Allen County Schools' new elementary building must wait another year.

Since the school board approved updated attendance areas for the elementary schools in February, the district has pressed the general contractor for an “honest and realistic assessment” of the progress on Aspen Meadow Elementary School, Superintendent Chris Himsel told the board Monday.

The answer wasn't ideal.

The new school, which voters approved in 2018 as part of a nearly $34 million referendum, won't be ready for students in August, Himsel said.

“In its most recent schedule, the general contractor acknowledged that the roof, gym and certain classroom spaces as well as the outdoor areas will not be substantially completed prior to the start of school, even under the best of circumstances,” Himsel said.

District officials celebrated the school's groundbreaking at 2650 Hathaway Road in December 2018 alongside representatives from Mosaic Building Solutions, which was awarded a $25,744,660 construction bid.

The district's existing elementary buildings need the relief the new, eighth elementary school will bring. Elementary school enrollment has increased by more than 500 students since Eel River Elementary School opened about a decade ago, and projections have indicated the enrollment trend will continue.

“We do apologize for any inconveniences that are caused by this delay, such as continuing the use of portable classrooms,” Himsel said. “However, we believe that it is more important that Aspen Meadow be constructed to the specifications that were designed and communicated to all contractors who were interested in bidding the project.”

NACS is now planning for an August 2021 opening, at which time the updated attendance areas will take effect, Himsel said. He said transition activities will be planned next spring for students affected by the new school boundaries.

Discussions about updating the middle school attendance areas also will be delayed until fall 2021, Himsel said.

Barton-Coe-Vilamaa is the lead architecture and engineering firm for Aspen Meadow, which is based on the designs of Cedar Canyon and Eel River elementary schools. If these specifications are executed as designed, Himsel said, “We know Aspen Meadow should serve our community well.”

Also Monday, Northwest Allen County Schools joined other area districts by approving a resolution prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. It allows for continued wage payments to salaried and non-salaried personnel during the school closure.

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