Tooele County School District administrators roll out contingency plans for new elementary in Grantsville

Aug 4, 2022, 9:02 PM | Updated: Aug 5, 2022, 10:25 am

GRANTSVILLE, Utah — School district administrators briefed parents Thursday on possible contingency plans as they raced against the clock to open a new elementary in time for the beginning of the school year.

Twenty Wells Elementary, 636 Nygreen Street, remained under construction less than three weeks before the Aug. 24 start with much left to complete before the building could receive its certificate of occupancy.

“I drove by it, like, ‘ehhh doesn’t look like it’s going to be finished in time, wonder what’s going to happen, what the plan is,’” acknowledged parent Kim Giron, who showed up at Grantsville High School along with more than 100 other parents and children for a Thursday night briefing about the project and the alternative if the school does not open on-time.

Dr. Mark Ernst, superintendent of the Tooele County School District, said Twenty Hills had been hit by construction delays and supply chain issues that have slowed progress on the project.

“We’re optimistic we’re going to hit the 24th, but if not we’re pretty solid on the day after Labor Day,” Ernst told KSL TV in an interview.

According to contingency plans shared during the meeting, the district’s backup involved using open spaces at nearby Willow Elementary, 439 Willow Street, to house second through sixth graders through the first 8 days of the school year if need be.

First-graders down to preschoolers would see a start after Labor Day.

Ernst said workers were preparing to lay tile in the hallways and carpet in the rest of the classrooms. In order to obtain a certificate of occupancy, items like fire alarms and fire suppression sprinklers must also be in place and working.

“We want to show our community we’re being proactive,” Ernst said, while noting the Twenty Wells kitchen and lunch room likely were not likely to be ready immediately after Labor Day. “We’ll be bringing in meals from other local schools to feed those students.”

Parents who attended the meeting acknowledged it was one more thing among many to think about as they prepared for the start of the school year.

Still, many said they were grateful for the communication from the district amid the uncertainty.

“It’s comforting to have that,” said parent Jackie Young, “just knowing that, ‘hey, we’re hearing what you’re saying, we understand and we definitely want the kids to be taken care of.”

Ernst said he was grateful for parents’ and others’ patience.

“(We’re) very thankful for the administrators of Twenty Wells and Willow Elementary for their work and really just for the community, for their understanding in a delay that’s out of our control,” Ernst said. “We’re trying to make the best of a not-so-good situation.”

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Tooele County School District administrators roll out contingency plans for new elementary in Grantsville