PLEASANT VIEW — School is scheduled to start in about a week for students in Weber School District, but construction on the new Orchard Springs Elementary School is still underway and the building won’t be complete by the beginning of the year.
It’s unclear when the building, which cost $21.6 million, will be finished.
“The reality is we don’t know for sure,” said Lane Findlay, community relations specialist with the district, about the completion date. “At this point, it’s on the contractor.”
Last week, a letter was sent to parents informing them that it could be anywhere from one to three months before the school is finished, Findlay said.
In the meantime, the 380 students enrolled at Orchard Springs will be distributed among other nearby elementary schools.
In a letter to parents on the school’s website, Orchard Springs Principal Mary Jo Williams wrote that kindergarten will go to North Ogden Elementary, first grade will go to Plain City Elementary, second grade will go to West Weber Elementary, third through fifth grades will attend Silver Ridge Elementary and sixth grade will go to Farr West Elementary.
Students will be in the same classes with the same teachers they were assigned at Orchard Springs.
Students will still catch their buses at their local bus stops, Williams wrote. Additional information about busing is available on Williams’ letter on the school’s website.
Williams will continue to send these updates to parents of Orchard Springs students as construction progresses.
Findlay said that the district held a meeting with principals from nearby elementary schools last week, and they were all accommodating, wanting to make sure that students and parents feel welcome in their temporary schools.
Findlay also said that while Superintendent Jeff Stephens is frustrated at the delay in the school’s completion, his focus and the focus of the district generally is making these changes as convenient as possible for students, parents and teachers.
The district’s two new elementary schools that were slated to open this year, Orchard Springs and Silver Ridge in Farr West, have designs that are almost identical, save for an extra wing on Silver Ridge where special education services will be housed. Silver Ridge cost $24 million. Construction on both schools started in spring of 2018.
Silver Ridge is complete. It’s also one of the schools that will be housing displaced students from Orchard Springs.
Despite similarities between the two schools, different contractors managed the two projects.
Silver Ridge was built by R&O Construction, based in Ogden. Orchard Springs is being built by DWA (Darrell W. Anderson) Construction, Inc., based in Logan.
Findlay said that the district had been concerned for months that construction would not be completed on time. Each time district representatives met with DWA, they were assured the school would be completed by the deadline, July 26.
However, after a walk-through with the State Fire Marshal last week, it was clear that there was no way the building would open by the start of school.
The district’s director of facilities, Scott Zellmer, has held several candid meetings with the contractor, Findlay said.
The district may also have legal recourse, since the contract with DWA included a deadline, Findlay said. Penalties for DWA could include a fine or other damages.