Time running out to open new elementary school for upcoming school year

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GRANTSVILLE — School district administrators briefed parents Thursday on possible contingency plans as they raced against the clock to open a new elementary school in time for the beginning of the school year.

Twenty Wells Elementary at 636 Nygreen St. remained under construction less than three weeks before the Aug. 24 start with much left to complete before the building can receive its certificate of occupancy.

“I drove by it, figured it wasn’t going to be finished. I was like, ‘eh, doesn’t look like it’s going to be finished in time, wonder what’s going to happen, what the plan is,'” acknowledged parent Kim Giron, who showed up at Grantsville High School along with more than 100 other parents and children for a Thursday night briefing about the project and the alternative if the school does not open on time.

Dr. Mark Ernst, superintendent of the Tooele County School District, said Twenty Hills has been hit by construction delays and supply chain issues that have slowed progress on the project.

“We’re optimistic we’re going to hit the 24th, but if not we’re pretty solid on the day after Labor Day,” Ernst told KSL TV in an interview.

According to contingency plans shared during the meeting, the district’s backup involves using open spaces at nearby Willow Elementary, 439 Willow St., to house second through sixth graders through the first eight days of the school year if needed.

First graders down to preschoolers would see a start after Labor Day.

Ernst said workers were preparing to lay tile in the hallways and carpet in the rest of the classrooms. In order to obtain a certificate of occupancy, items like fire alarms and fire suppression sprinklers must also be in place and working.

We’re optimistic we’re going to hit the 24th, but if not we’re pretty solid on the day after Labor Day.

–Dr. Mark Ernst, Tooele County School District

“We want to show our community we’re being proactive,” Ernst said, while noting the Twenty Wells kitchen and lunch room were not likely to be ready immediately after Labor Day. “We’ll be bringing in meals from other local schools to feed those students.”

Parents who attended the meeting acknowledged that it was one more thing among many to think about as they prepared for the start of the school year. Still, many said they were grateful for the communication from the district amid the uncertainty.

“It’s comforting to have that,” said parent Jackie Young, “just knowing that, ‘hey, we’re hearing what you’re saying. We understand and we definitely want the kids to be taken care of.'”

Ernst said he is grateful for parents’ and others’ patience.

“(We’re) very thankful for the administrators of Twenty Wells and Willow Elementary for their work and really just for the community, for their understanding in a delay that’s out of our control,” Ernst said. “We’re trying to make the best of a not-so-good situation.”


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