On September 7, 2022

New Fair Haven Middle School opens just in time

Staff report

Repairs and upgrades of the new Fair Haven Union Middle High School were finished just in time for school to start.

The building received its certificate of occupancy on Monday, Aug. 29, just two days before the first day of school.

“It was definitely tight,” said Slate Valley Unified Union School District Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell. “It was definitely a scramble the last few days there.”

A wall was torn down this summer in the newly renovated Fair Haven Middle School, which opened Aug. 31.

The project, completed by Bread Loaf Corporation in Middlebury, will cost about $3.4 million, slightly more than the $3.2 million projected cost. Most of the expense is being covered by federal funds.

The construction was significantly scaled back after a proposed $60 million bond to upgrade the middle school and Fair Haven Union High School was rejected by voters just before the pandemic.

“There’s things we don’t have for sure, like a full size middle school gym,” Olsen-Farrell said. “We’re pretty happy with what we do have so far and we’re excited.”

Construction started just after school let out in June. A fitness center was remodeled to create a half-gym, half-cafeteria, students now have new science labs, new classrooms, new ventilation, a new roof, new lockers and all new furniture.

About 180 students in seventh and eighth grade from the towns of Benson, Orwell, Fair Haven and Castleton are now in one place instead of four buildings.

Olsen-Farrell said the new structure allows students to take foreign language classes and a digital arts program. Some students formerly took algebra online because the district couldn’t fund an algebra teacher in four buildings.

“So far, so good,” Olsen-Farrell said.

Though the building is ready for students, construction is not completely done. There is temporary carpeting and temporary windows in parts of the building until permanent fixtures can be installed in November and December.

“That was unexpected, that’s due to supply chain issues,” Olsen-Farrell said.

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