RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — New Boston School Superintendent Mike Staggs said Wednesday that the date students could expect to begin class in the new school building has been pushed back again. Previously expecting to take ownership of the building on Sept. 28, the district had planned to start school in early-October; but setbacks concerning the water retention pond in front of the building will delay that start by a few weeks more.
Staggs said he still believes students will begin class in the new building by mid-October.
The district passed a local levy to build new schools in 2008, and broke ground in April 2011. This makes the sixth time the completion date has been pushed back, originally planning June 1 and pushed to June 29, then to July 15, then to Aug. 15, then to Sept. 5, then to Sept. 28, and now delayed again to an undetermined date. Staggs said he believes the construction crews could still finish the building itself before the Sept. 28 deadline, but retention pond outside will not be completed by that time.
“We had no idea that (the pond) would be a problem, and since the site dictated that we build the building first, there was no way of knowing that until we dug the hole. What can you do?” Staggs said.
To correct the problem, the district has added another retention pond area to the property to handle excess water. The new pond is located on the terrace next to the New Boston Stadium. When the terrace is not holding flood water, it will be used for employee parking on a gravel lot.
Once the pond is complete, the district will pave the new road that will run in front of the building, behind the stadium, and that road will be named Glenwood Tiger Trail.
“Can we move into the building with that pond not being done? Yes, but that building ties into the space that is actually Glenwood Tiger Trail. So we have to make sure we can get in and out of the property safely before we actually move into the building,” Staggs said.
Rumors have been circulating for months that the building already has mold, and is falling down in the back. Staggs said none of that is true, and insists it would be almost impossible for the building to sink, crumble or crack, because it is supported on 1,300 rammed aggregate piers. It’s partly because of those expensive piers, he said, that the project start was delayed and pushed them way behind schedule. But, according to Staggs, they were worth it.
“In a building this size, we should have no settling of the building. Zero. There shouldn’t be cracks in the cement floor because they’re sitting on 1,300 of these piers that stabilize the cement floor,” Staggs said. “The slab sits right on those piers and it’s a very stable building.”
As for the mold, Staggs explained there was small amounts of mold inside the building before the windows were sealed in because it was exposed to damp air outside. After the windows were installed, he said, those areas were cut out completely and replaced. There is no mold in the building now, he said.
Until the retention pond is closer to being complete, Staggs will not give an exact start date. All that he would say now is that he hopes to have students in class by mid-October, but the absolute worst-case scenario would be after Thanksgiving — although he doubts it will go that far.
“One thing I have learned, never tell (the Portsmouth Daily Times) a definite time because it will (probably change),” he joked.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.