Meeker school problem delays classes, results in shared facilities

Seniors will be sharing a school building with second-graders in the Meeker School District this year, and all district students will start school two weeks late because of structural problems in Meeker’s year-old elementary school.

Classes had been scheduled to start Tuesday but were pushed back to Sept. 6 after the district board decided early this month to close the $18 million school and disperse its approximately 340 students to other locations until structural concerns can be addressed.

“This is repairable, is what we’ve been told,” district superintendent Susan Goettel said.

The school was built to replace an old, crowded building and was paid for with part of a $24 million bond issue approved by voters. Just after its opening last fall, movement was discovered where the gymnasium wall met the roof, requiring the gym to be shut down while additional bracing was installed.

The gym reopened after several weeks and is in good shape, Goettel said. But a subsequent independent engineering review of the rest of the building resulted in the recommendation that lateral bracing needed to be shored up, Goettel said. She said the district isn’t seeing damage, but the concern lies with the potential for damage.

She said there are no problems with the building foundation.

The Neenan Company built the school under a design-build contract. Goettel said all of the building repairs are covered under the warranty, and the company verbally agreed to cover moving costs for the relocated classes and other expenses, such as fencing for temporary elementary play areas.

“They’ve been very supportive,” she said.

Goettel said the district awaits an estimate on how long the repairs will take.

The situation forced the remainder of summer classes at the school to be moved to Barone Middle School. Fifth-grade classes will be held there starting Sept. 6. Second- through fourth-graders will be taught in Meeker High School’s northeast wing. Classes for preschool through first-grade will take place at the administration building, forcing district offices to be relocated to a hall basement at St. James Episcopal Church.

Goettel said the nine days of canceled classes won’t have to be made up because the district still will have more total instructional days and hours this school year than the state requires.

She said the change caused inconveniences, such as parents having to arrange additional day care for their children, but high school teachers are looking forward to arranging “big-sister, big-brother” activities because of the youngsters who will be there.


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