Aspen

A rendering of Northwest Allen County Schools’ new elementary school shows a perspective from the parent drop-off location. The design is based on Eel River and Cedar Canyon elementary schools. The district’s superintendent announced March 23 that the opening of the new school has been delayed.

HUNTERTOWN — Northwest Allen County Schools isn’t sure yet when its new elementary school, Aspen Meadow, will open to students, but the district is certain it won’t be on schedule. During a March 23 meeting of the NACS Board of School Trustees, Superintendent Chris Himsel announced the school will not open in August 2020 as originally planned.

“To ensure the health and safety of students and to ensure a positive experience for all Aspen Meadow families, we have made the decision to delay the opening of the new school,” Himsel said. “Therefore, the updated attendance areas will not be implemented until August of 2021, and during the 2020-21 school year the current attendance areas will continue to guide the assignment of students to our elementary schools.”

Himsel said the district had attempted to obtain from the general a contractor an “honest assessment” on the construction progress prior to accepting updated attendance areas in February. Since Feb. 13, “we have employed more aggressive methods of engaging the contractor to provide honest and realistic assessments of progress related to construction timelines and a substantial completion date of Aspen Meadow so we could accurately share it with our community.”

Himsel told board members that the district has been advised that the project will not reach substantial completion within the planned timeframe. Even under the best circumstances, the building’s roof, gym and certain classrooms spaces will not meet the target date before the start of school, Himsel said. Aspen Meadow is based on the same specifications as Eel River and Cedar Canyon elementary schools.

Until the school is completed, NACS will continue to hold some classes in portable classrooms, specifically at Perry Hill and Huntertown elementary schools, as attendance is projected to continue to rise. NACS Chief Communications Officer Lizette Downey said the district will “have some bigger class sizes in the upper elementary grades,” adding that discussions related to new middle school boundaries will be delayed until fall of 2021.

“We do apologize for any inconveniences that are caused by this delay, such as continuing the use of portable classrooms,” Himsel said. “However, we believe it is more important that Aspen Meadow be constructed to the specifications that were designed and communicated to all contractors who were interested in bidding the project in the fall of 2019.

Himsel said the district will implement “transition activities” in the spring of 2021 for any students who are reassigned to a different elementary school in August 2021.

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