FARMINGTON – Students in Mount Blue Regional School Unit 9 will find out Friday if they get an extra few days of summer break this year.

That’s because a construction project at the district’s high school in Farmington may not be finished by Wednesday, the scheduled first day of school for the more than 2,300 students from the district’s nine towns.

Superintendent Michael Cormier will decide Friday morning whether the construction delays at the high school warrant pushing back opening day to Tuesday, Sept. 6, a decision that would apply to all of the district’s school buildings.

He is worried about undelivered furniture, construction debris and other minor issues at the high school, attributing the missed deadline to an optimistic schedule set for finishing the project.

“(The deadline) is so tight that it might be prudent to delay the first day, and if come Friday I’m still not sure everything will be ready, I’ll make that call,” Cormier said.

If opening day is delayed, the more than 150 teachers in the district will still work Monday and Tuesday to get ready for opening day. Construction delays have kept some teachers from getting into new classrooms, Cormier said.

“I just want to give teachers enough time to feel comfortable without having to deal with a mishmash of furniture and other minor things,” he said.

Delaying opening day would add three school days to the end of the school year, similar to how the district handles extra snow days, according to Cormier. The extension would not affect graduation or other end-of-the-year functions, he said.

While the project at the high school may have some loose ends, Cormier is confident the construction of a new elementary school in the district is right on schedule.

A new W.G. Mallett School, for about 450 students in pre-kindergarten to grade three, was built for about $14 million over the summer in Farmington, replacing the recently demolished 80-year-old school building.

Cormier said minor construction delays are not a cause for concern, despite this being the first of several deadlines in the multi-phased plan for an innovative learning campus that is expected to be finished by September 2013.

Wright-Ryan Construction Inc. based in Portland is managing the project, according to Cormier.

“I’ve been very optimistic that they were going to make it, and they may, and I just wanted to be prepared,” he said Wednesday.

The construction that started in November and will continue through the school year at the high school is the first step toward completion of the $60 million Mount Blue learning campus that will bring together programs at Mount Blue High School and Foster Technology Center, a career training program for students in the region.

The project to integrate the career tech program with the high school, under a combined learning campus, has been touted by experts as a model for other school districts in New England.

It was recognized earlier this year as being among the top three innovative educational projects in Maine.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer David Robinson can be contacted at 861-9287

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