Summer projects won't delay SVSU start of school

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BENNINGTON — Local students will head back to school in September on-time as summer construction projects in the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union are on track to be completed.

That includes a $4.4 million project that aimed to boost energy efficiency at Bennington's three elementary schools and ventilation work at Shaftsbury Elementary School. Officials worried Shaftsbury's opening would be delayed over asbestos found above the ceiling in one section of the building.

"Contractors have been very aggressive at getting this done, understanding we want to open school on time," Superintendent Jim Culkeen said on Friday.

For students in Kindergarten through Grade 9, the first day of school will be Tuesday, Sept. 5. Grades 10 through 12 will have their first day on Sept. 6. Pre-kindergarten will begin Monday, Sept. 18.

In Shaftsbury, asbestos was found during work to improve the school's ventilation system. When the ceiling in the building's old wing was removed, asbestos insulation was discovered on the pipes, and had to be removed before the duct work could be replaced.

That insulation will be removed this weekend, Culkeen said, and the contractor will then continue the project and put the ceiling back up. Tests for asbestos in the school will be done next week in preparation for the opening of school. Culkeen said officials have no reason to believe there will be a delay.

A $4.4 million energy retrofit project was underway for the Bennington School District. All classrooms in Bennington, Molly Stark and Monument elementary schools will be ready for the first day of school, Culkeen said.

That project included replacing outdated oil-fired boilers with new, high-efficiency boilers, energy-efficient LED lighting, and digital controls. At Bennington Elementary School, new windows were installed on two sides of the building.

Boilers will be on-line for hot water, but won't yet be ready for the heating season, he said.

Bennington voters approved the bond for the project in March 2016.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.

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