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Unity looks to get school project on track

UNITY — In an effort to get the construction of the new elementary school back on track, the school board voted Tuesday to hire construction company Trumbull-Nelson to complete the job.

Architect Schott Vaughn, who had been helming the project from the start, will act as a consultant, said Middletown McGoodwin, superintendent of SAU 6 in Claremont.

“He is no longer involved with the actual construction, but he is the architect of record and will be working with Trumbull-Nelson as they prepare a report for the school board to be given at town meeting in March,” McGoodwin said.

Trumbull-Nelson is expected to evaluate the current state of construction and return to the school board next month with cost estimates to complete the project.

McGoodwin said he would be surprised if the school board did not ask voters at the Annual Meeting in March for additional money to finish the school building.

Voters approved a $4.7 million bond to build the new school for Unity children grades K through 8 at an August 2010 special meeting after state officials ordered Unity Elementary School closed due to unresolved fire and building code violations.

The new school should have been complete and ready for students for the start of the 2012 school year. But when it wasn’t complete, the state Fire Marshal’s Office and Department of Education granted a waiver to the building and fire code violations of the old elementary school so that it could be used for another year.

Then in March voters approved an additional $550,000 bond to fund what Vaughn said was unanticipated site work.

In July the Fire Marshal’s Office placed a stop work order on construction, which has not yet been lifted, McGoodwin said.

“They would not release the stop work order until certain plans had been submitted and met their approval. And that has not been done to the satisfaction of the state Fire Marshal’s Office,” McGoodwin said.

Because the state would not issue another waiver and the old building was in the process of demolition, Unity School Board members decided to bus students to both Disnard Elementary School in Claremont and Claremont Middle School.

It is unclear what it is going to cost to complete the project, but the SAU officials and board members are “cautiously optimist” Trumbull-Nelson can complete the school so students can return to Unity in September, he said.

“The money that remains is the money that comes from donations. The money that was bonded and additional money that was approved by the town last year has been encumbered or has been used,” McGoodwin said.The school board has accepted about $500,000 from private donations and organizations to complete the project, McGoodwin said.

That includes $200,000 from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation the board accepted on Tuesday.


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