By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIWK — A new addition to Newkirk Elementary School (NES) is expected to bring extra room and opportunities for its students, but that opening is being delayed due to weather and company management.
The building was expected to be ready to open for the 2019-2020 school year, but officials are now looking at an October date.
Voters passed an $8.5 million bond measure in February 2017 for several construction projects, including a new basketball gym next to the high school, which is still under construction, and a roof for the middle school, which is completed.
The ECC will benefit NES in many ways, including pre-k and kindergarten classrooms, a new STEM (Science, Technology, Math and Science) room with hands-on technology to foster science and technology education, the assistant principal’s office and a new library that doubles as a safe room for up to 400 people.
Administrators originally planned to be ready for the start of the school year, but a variety of factors has delayed opening, partly due to the extended precipitation in May and June, as well as company operations.
Both the ECC and gym are under contract to Atlas Construction, but in February, they applied for bankruptcy, which has delayed the work. However, they pledge to finish all projects in a timely manner.
“The big issue was Atlas going bankrupt, but it is going to get done,” said Superintendent Brady Barnes. “The gym, we can move into anytime, but the ECC is not going to be done for the start of the school. We’re hoping it is going to be done in October.”
Another problem it poses is that the fifth-grade classes are currently housed in the middle school and were looking forward to moving back to NES. Administrators are working to find a solution for the fifth graders, Barnes said.
“The administration is planning for their return,” he said.