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Utah middle school students await new home amid construction delays

By Kim Bojorquez, KSL | Posted - Sep. 10, 2019 at 3:44 p.m.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Lake Mountain Middle School students were not able to step into their newly built school Tuesday morning after its occupancy was postponed by a state fire marshal.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience and frustration this has caused parents, students, and employees and appreciate your patience during this difficult situation,” according to a news release from Alpine School District officials.

This isn’t the first time the school’s opening has been delayed. Originally, the school was set to open in August, but district officials announced the school would not be completed until after the first three weeks of the semester due to construction delays caused by a wet winter and spring.

Instead, students will continue to receive educational services at Vista Heights Middle School satellite buildings, located 2 miles away, that include online learning, transportation, school lunch, special education as well as contact with Lake Mountain Middle School faculty.

Kimberly Bird, Alpine School District spokeswoman, said approximately 1,300 students are enrolled in the school and about 10,000 assignments had been submitted by students after the first week of school.

On Monday, general contractor Hogan Construction released a statement that the company had been working with the fire marshal for several months “to understand his expectations in order to safely open the school.”

“The level of finish in those occupied areas wasn’t to the level that he was comfortable with,” said Chris Hogan, president of Hogan Construction. “We don’t want to open a school unsafely either, it’s all about the safety and the education of the children and the occupants of that staff.”

Hogan said construction crews were doing everything possible to minimize the inconvenience and impact the delays have had on students and teachers.

On Monday afternoon, Lake Mountain Middle School Principal Mark Whitaker addressed parents through the school’s Facebook page, writing that he and faculty were “extremely frustrated” by the news.

He said the school’s safety systems were in place and functional, but the fire marshal was uncomfortable with the amount of work and cleaning the construction crews had left to do.

“Hogan Construction was confident they would gain occupancy based on previous visits and conversations with the fire marshal. Despite their assurances, it did not happen,” he wrote.

Whitaker said the fire marshal will return for a follow-up visit on Monday.

Until the fire marshal arrives next week, Bird said the district would wait until occupancy is granted to announce an opening date.

“We hope it happens sooner than later,” Bird said.

Contributing: Frank Mueller, KSL Newsradio

Kim Bojorquez

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