Field Elementary students might move in January 2010

Thursday, February 19, 2009 | 5:44 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – Field Elementary School students might move to Columbia's new elementary school in January 2010 following winter break.

The opening of Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary was originally scheduled to open in the fall but has been delayed due to unprecedented weather.

Jack Jensen, chair of the Elementary School Construction Steering Committee, met Wednesday with the construction company, Professional Contractors and Engineers Inc., and architects to review the project's progress.

"They've had around 240 construction days that they could work and over 100 days lost because of rain or, in the winter, temperatures so cold that they could not lay block," Jensen said.

Jensen said the construction company has done everything within its power to ensure timely construction of the school.  "It's just been a very wet spring and summer, and then cold winter.  Crews have even worked some Saturdays when the weather has cooperated," he said

Block cannot be laid in temperatures below freezing because moisture in the grout can freeze and crack. 

Jensen said that the elementary school building could be ready by late September or early October 2009, but under the current plan students would not be moved into the building until the winter break.

"What we will have to do is visit with the schools that are impacted by this, meet with the families," said Jensen.  "We're going to want to minimize the impact of this on children and families.  One thought is to open the school with Field Elementary students over the winter break.  We don't see moving all the children from other schools in the middle of the year and trying to integrate them."

Field Elementary students would remain with the same teachers they had in the fall; only their classroom location will change.

Under this proposed plan, other students in the Alpha Hart Lewis zone will make the switch the following fall.

"The main thing that drives any of this is making sure that we have cohesiveness for all of the students," Jensen said.

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