New Construction

Construction Delays Force N.D. School to Delay Opening

A new high school under construction in the West Fargo School District in Horace, N.D., will not be able to open in time for the new school year due to construction delays, according to officials. The district cites a number of issues “mostly beyond the contractors’ control” that will cause Horace High to delay its opening beyond Aug. 26, the district’s scheduled first day of classes.

“There were some issues in terms of timing plan review and permitting, so that sort of delayed the initial groundbreaking,” said Mark Lemer, the district’s construction coordinator. “Now that we’re building in earnest, there are a number of product and material backups that have caused delays in the schedule. The supply chain issues are still out there. They have been plaguing us.”

Gast Construction, the project’s lead contractor, has also faced a significant building materials shortage as worldwide supply costs continue to rise and availability remains low.

Lemer did say that even though contractors around the region have had trouble hiring and retaining workers, Gast did not face such workforce issues. “There were a couple of trades that struggled to get on the site with the appropriate manpower, which caused some impact, but it was not the driving force,” said Lemer.

Roughly 300 freshmen and sophomores will attend classes at Heritage Middle School next door until construction is complete. Lemer also said that while the logistics of schedules and classroom space have already been figured out, the temporary situation is still less than ideal. “The real unfortunate piece is that a middle school really isn’t equipped the same as a high school,” he said. “There will be a few challenges in the coursework we offer, such as construction, chemistry, health careers, advanced bio, and those sort of things that go beyond what we have spaces and equipment for in a middle school.”

The West Fargo school district informed parents of the delayed opening via email. The district said it will continue to send email updates at the beginning of every other week to families at Heritage Middle School and Horace High School to keep them informed.

The district has not yet announced a new opening date for the high school: “What we don’t want to do is get a date out there that we don’t achieve. That would exacerbate the problem,” said Lemer. “We’re looking at a delay that will be beyond the first weeks of school.”

The building was intended to open in phases. The primary building for classes was scheduled to open in August, with music rehearsal spaces, auditoriums and additional classrooms opening later in the year. The project’s later phases have been pushed back even further, and the list of items to be completed in order to open the primary building has been trimmed down. For example, completion of the school’s gym and locker rooms have been added to a later phase.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].