Construction began on the new building in March 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Island School District)

Construction began on the new building in March 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Island School District)

New Blakely school not ready: Bainbridge district announces delay in start of school year for some students

The new Blakely Elementary School will not open in time for the first day of school as hoped, officials with the Bainbridge Island School District announced Friday.

The district is delaying the start of school year for Blakely students by three days. The school will now open Monday, Sept. 6.

All other public schools on the island will have the first day of class on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

“This was a difficult decision to make and one that wasn’t made lightly. Ultimately, it came down to wanting to provide the best start-of-school experience possible — one where staff members are prepared and ready to welcome students and families. I realize this delay impacts our Blakely families and staff, and I thank them for their continued patience and support. The new building is an incredible learning environment and we can’t wait for the students and staff to enjoy it!” Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen said in the announcement of the opening delay.

Officials made the announcement in a letter to parents and staff.

Officials said the delay was due to “schedule challenges in obtaining an occupancy permit for the new Blakely Elementary School.”

“While the new building itself is almost complete, the schedule to open the building is very challenging,” Bang-Knudsen said in the announcement.

“The city of Bainbridge Island, Kitsap Public Health, BI Fire Department and Labor and Industries are continuing to work toward inspections in order to gain occupancy. To ensure a safe and successful start of school for our Blakely students, we are delaying their first day of school to Monday, Sept. 9,” Bang-Knudsen said.

“These extra days provide time for staff to prepare their classrooms, review new safety plans (such as fire drills), and train on new systems and technology,” he added.

A new date and time is being schedule for the school’s Meet & Greet event.

Bang-Knudsen also said the district was contacting the state to see how the late start would impact the scheduled last day of school for Blakely students.

“In some cases, waivers are granted for days missed. As soon as we know more, we will pass on the information to you,” Bang-Knudsen said.

Construction began on the new building in March 2018.

The new school will not be finished when it opens, and construction will continue through part of the school year. The entire project is expected to wrap up in November 2019. That additional work, called Phase II, includes which includes the construction of play areas and fields, parking lots and landscaping.

Tamela Van Winkle, executive director of Facilities, Operations & Capital Projects, said the completion of the project was “within sight.”

“We are so close to having the building completed — the finish-line is within sight,” Van Winkle said.

“However, if an inspection is delayed or we are faced with an unforeseen circumstance, it could negatively impact our original opening goal. Delaying the start gives us breathing room and allows teachers and staff to properly prepare for the start of the school year,” she added.

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