GARDNER - Pandemic-related supply chain challenges have put the new Gardner Elementary School construction project so behind schedule, school officials are delaying the start of school.
Brenda Sheehan, who takes care of her eight-year-old grandson, was taken by surprise. "Two weeks, it's a lot, and then what's going to happen at the end of the school year?" Sheehan wondered.
The two-week delay at the elementary school trickles down and forces a one-week delay at the middle and high schools, and it's complicated. Administrators have to juggle athletic schedules, bussing, and MCAS.
"There's also the teachers' contracts, which are 184 days. So you have teachers in the same bargaining unit starting at different times, ending at different times," said Mark Hawke Gardner Public School's Director of Finances and Operations.
That's why Gardner's school superintendent is asking the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for a special waiver, to excuse Gardner Elementary from having to stay open longer at the end of the year.
It all comes down to electrical components that still have not arrived at the school construction site. They power an important elevator system and basically everything in the building.
Hawke says the missing pieces are the brains of the building. "Everything's electronic these days, and these are the brains that are just delayed, and it's supply chain issues. They're probably floating on a ship off the coast of California," he said.
Grades one through four at Gardner Elementary will now start September 12th. Kindergarten starts September 15th, and preschool starts the 19th. The first day at the middle school, the high school, and alternative school will be September 6th.
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