Beth Center flooding

Carpets were saturated when water leaked into Bethlehem-Center Elementary School during heavy rains last September.

Bethlehem-Center School District has postponed its start date for school by one week because of ongoing renovation projects.

The district began a $10.3 million heating, ventilation and air-conditioning project in April, according to Superintendent Chris Sefcheck. The construction materials still in the middle and high schools have made it difficult to get the buildings cleaned and set up for the new year, he said.

“With this project finishing up close to school, we’re not able to get the buildings clean and the classrooms set up in time,” Sefcheck said Monday. “It just went a little bit longer than anticipated.”

He said there’s in-house work that needs to be done, that can’t get done until the construction materials are removed from the buildings. He said postponing the start day would ensure more organization for the students and staff.

“We want everyone to have ample time to be prepared for the kids,” he said.

The district was supposed to start Aug. 21, but will now postpone until Aug. 28. Sefcheck said the late start won’t have a major impact on the rest of the school year, though they haven’t decided yet how to make up the days.

“We hope to approve an updated school calendar in September,” he said. “We’ll still have to have our 180 days, and we don’t want to waste our snows days right away.”

The project included new roofs on all three buildings, better security doors and systems and air-conditioning in the middle and high schools, which still needs to be completed, Sefcheck said.

“Since the early 1990s, we’ve had complaints about the heat and air quality at the high school,” he said. “This past year, we even had early dismissals due to the heat.”

He said the high school still won’t have air-conditioning by Aug. 28, and that it’s undetermined when that project will be finished. He said most of the middle school has air-conditioning, with the rest of the project to be finished soon, Sefcheck said.

Some parts of the middle and high school roofs still need to be completed, where the HVAC systems are being finished. At the elementary school, they’re replacing the damaged carpet that resulted from flooding in the building last September, Sefcheck said.

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