Superintendent Alicia Henderson learned late Wednesday that driving the piles and laying the foundation for the new 6th Grade building at Miller Junior High School will take longer than originally planned. Occupancy of the new building is now expected in October.

“We have known from the outset that our timeline for occupancy before the first day of school was ambitious,” Superintendent Henderson said. “Everyone has been working hard to make it happen, but in the final analysis, the pilings and foundation required more engineering and our contractor will need more time to complete the project.”

Dr. Henderson added that she has been hearing from the outset that soils in South Aberdeen are notoriously soft and complex. When the bid was awarded to Rognlin’s, Inc. on May 7, the August 15 opening was still on the calendar.

“Again, we knew it was ambitious, but there are some things you just can’t know until you break ground,” she said. A new occupancy date will be announced when the foundation work is complete. Superintendent Henderson said the plan is to keep all of the 6th and 7th Grades at Miller. Half of the 8th Grade will be housed in the four outside classrooms on the north side of the Stevens Elementary campus with one team of 8th Grade teachers. The 8th Grade was selected because the students are more mature, they’re already familiar with Miller and they know the teachers, she said. Safe passage between schools for electives and lunch will be assured.

She noted that the Aberdeen School District has a history of successfully accommodating different age groups on a campus when necessary. For example, McDermoth Elementary School students were relocated to a portion of the Aberdeen High School campus during a remodeling project.

“I have every confidence that our staff and students will rise to the challenge of making the best of this situation,” she said. “We still have a lot of details to work out, but the final plan will be one that keeps the safety of our students and staff at the forefront, while not short-changing the quality of instruction.”

The meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at Miller Junior High School is open to the community. District staff will share information known to date and respond to questions and concerns. Afterward, a Q&A will be posted on the “6th to Miller” page the District maintains on its web site.

“No one wants to cut corners on laying the foundation for a building that we hope to have in service for many years into the future,” Superintendent Henderson said. “And now that we know, we wanted to get the word out to our staff and community as soon as possible.”