Lake Mountain Middle School won't be finished for months 09

A worker with Hogan & Associates Construction carries a ladder out a back entrance while construction continues on Lake Mountain Middle School on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Saratoga Springs. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Lake Mountain Middle School in Saratoga Springs will not open as planned on Tuesday.

“We are frustrated, to say the least,” said Kimberly Bird, a spokeswoman for the Alpine School District.

The district learned Monday afternoon the Saratoga Springs school would not be ready to open the next day after the state fire marshal did not grant occupancy.

“Hogan Construction has been working with the fire marshal over the past several months to understand his expectations in order to safely open the school,” a statement from Hogan Construction reads. “While all of the critical life safety and egress requirements were in place today, the fire marshal wanted to see a higher level of finish in the occupiable areas. Our construction team will continue to do everything possible and anticipate meeting the level of finish early next week and achieving occupancy as soon as possible.”

The school was expected to partially open Tuesday. Parents were alerted to the last-minute delay Monday afternoon. Bird said staff will be at the school Tuesday to alert those who didn’t receive the message from the district.

She did not know Monday when the school is now expected to open.

Students had been using a hybrid educational model for the last few weeks as construction on the new middle school continued. The model has students utilizing online education with an option to receive in-person help from teachers at the nearby Vista Heights Middle School.

Bird said more than 10,000 online assignments had been turned in and that the number of students coming in for help has increased from 135 a day to 350.

“We saw those numbers get stronger as the weeks progressed,” Bird said.

The school has an enrollment of about 1,300 students.

The 200,000-square-foot Saratoga Springs school has seen delays since its beginning. The project was bid in January 2018 with the intention construction would start a month later, but due to coordination between different entities and other projects in the area, was delayed four months. Additionally, a wet winter when crews were doing structural work and an extremely wet spring meant time couldn’t be made up.

The school is expected to partially open as work continues. Some classrooms — like those for career and technical education, the arts and athletics — are expected to be completed in October. The auditorium is expected to be the last part of the school to be completed in December, which has caused the planned fall play to be canceled.

Rumors of a possible delay emerged over the weekend as pictures of the school construction surfaced on social media. Bird said the photos were taken by someone who wasn’t authorized to be in the school, and were from areas that are expected to be the last to be finished.

Bird said the delay isn’t expected to lead to any additional costs to the district, but is causing stress to those involved.

Braley Dodson covers health and education for the Daily Herald.

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