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Unity School Delays Draw Ire of Residents

Unity — Frustrations boiled over more than once at Tuesday night’s School Board meeting, as more than a dozen residents turned out to discuss ongoing construction delays at the new elementary school and the uncertainty about when the school will be ready for students.

“You have failed us,” resident Adam Boardman told the board. “We are all frustrated. We want our kids in the school.”

About 100 Unity students have been attending school in Claremont since the school year began. Initially, it was thought they would return to Unity before the end of the calendar year, but now they could be in Claremont for the entire academic year.

Architect and construction manager Scott Vaughn, as he has at past public meeting, reviewed the status of the project in detail Tuesday night in response to questions from several residents.

Construction halted in August over two issues: The state Fire Marshal’s Office needs to approve a window installation system, and a complete set of architectural drawings need to be filed with the state.

The drawings are due early next week.

The window installation, which Vaughn designed, cut $500,000 in costs from the project, but before it can be approved by the state Fire Marshal’s Office, engineers need to certify the design’s fire safety and structural integrity. Vaughn is pursuing those certifications.

Board members said they shared residents’ frustrations but can see no other options except to keep pushing ahead.

“I have no answers. I don’t know what to do when presented with issues that are out of your hands,” said board member Bob McDevitt, who told the audience of about 15 that he expected to be working to improve education for students at this point. “We are doing the best we can.”

Krista Duval told the board it needed to “get it together and get the kids back in Unity.

“Don’t just agree,” she said. “Do something about it. We have been more than patient.”

Duval went so far as to suggest it could be time to remove Vaughn and hire someone else, but the board did not give that serious consideration. McDevitt and board chairman Shawn Randall said it would cost more to dismiss Vaughn with no other plan in place.

“If you bring in new people, it will cost major premiums,” said McDevitt.

Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin suggested the board start talking about a plan for students if the school can’t be opened by August 2014.

“There are unknowns, and with unknowns, it is not too soon,” McGoodwin said and the board agreed.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.