Students will finally start classes at the new Sanford High School on Wednesday, following a series of construction delays that pushed back the move to the $100 million building until well after the start of the school year.

The new state-of-the-art building – the most expensive school ever built in Maine – replaces an overcrowded high school that was built nearly 50 years ago. The first day for students had been scheduled for Tuesday but was pushed back to Wednesday to allow teachers more time to set up their classrooms and learn their way around the building.

“I made the decision to take one more day (for preparation) so we could get it right,” said Superintendent David Theoharides, who said teachers and staff are excited about getting settled into the new building on Alumni Boulevard.

Last week, an inspection by the local fire marshal and codes enforcement office determined there were several minor problems that needed to be addressed, including a couple of doors that wouldn’t close properly and an issue with hot water in part of the building. Teachers had a one-day delay in moving into the new school while those issues were fixed, Theoharides said.

The project faced earlier delays because of vandalism. In June, a police officer doing a routine check of the building found a small fire in the lobby. Three other fires fueled by blueprints, ceiling tiles and construction debris were found by responding firefighters. The vandals also broke a large interior window and damaged metal studs with a scissor lift that was driven through the building, according to school officials.

A certificate of occupancy for the new school was issued Friday.

Theoharides said the decision to push back the first student day was made Friday when he realized teachers and staff hadn’t had enough time to fully make the transition into the new 330,000-square-foot school. Teachers were paid for two extra days so they could spend the weekend and Columbus Day setting up their classrooms.

The $100.2 million high school and technical center is the most expensive school construction project in Maine history. Most of the project was funded by the state, with Sanford taxpayers contributing about $10.6 million to build the new school and technical center on a 127-acre parcel between Main Street and Route 4. Sanford voters approved the project in 2015.

The school was built to accommodate 1,800 students. The campus features an 830-seat performing arts center, a synthetic turf field and outdoor bleachers. Athletic teams began using the new stadium earlier this school year.

The technical center was designed to educate high school students who are interested in fields such as automotive technology, nursing, welding, media production, cosmetology, culinary arts and firefighting.

The new high school was also designed with safety in mind: Hallways don’t offer any place for a gunman to hide and classroom doors lock from the inside. About 100 cameras are mounted throughout the building and can be monitored remotely by police.

The community will celebrate the new school with an open house on Oct. 28 that will include tours of the building and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

After the new high school opens, the school department will continue with a $43 million state-funded plan to renovate and expand other school buildings. The current junior high school will be renovated to become an elementary school and the former high school will become a middle school for grades 5 to 8. Voters approved the plan in June 2017.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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Twitter: grahamgillian

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