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Lafayette school students get extended summer break

Summer break has been extended 10 days for students in the Lafayette County school system because of ongoing construction projects.

School was scheduled to start Aug. 4. On Thursday, schools Superintendent Mike Foster said the local board decided to delay the first day of school until Aug. 14.

“If we push it back, most of the construction will be complete,” Foster said of work being done on the new Lafayette Upper Elementary School.

“We may only have a few more things left on the library,” he said.

Construction of the new $7 million elementary school was scheduled to be completed by July 17, but delays included electrical problems, removal of tree stumps and unanticipated illnesses among some of the contractor and subcontractor’s supervisors.

Sanderson Construction Co. of Amory has been diligently working on getting the school complete, Foster said.

“They’ve been bending over backwards to make sure everything is done in time for school,” he said.

Foster said work remains on the school’s cafeteria and library. He said workers may soon begin moving in furniture and prepping classrooms.

The completion of the school will mark the end of a series of capital improvement projects that began in May 2004 after the voters in the county school district approved a $12.9 million bond issue.

Other projects financed by the bond issue were new athletic fields and renovations to Lafayette Middle School’s roof and installation of central heating and air conditioning units.

The another project blamed for delaying the start of school is the expansion of Mississippi 334 by 1,000 feet in front of the county school complex.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has completed some of the work on the expansion but cannot complete the project, which includes turn lanes, until all of the utilities have been moved. BellSouth, East Oxford Water Association and Northeast Mississippi Electric Power Association have already moved their lines, leaving only Centerpoint Energy to finish relocating its lines.

Dean Kidd, assistant maintenance engineer with MDOT, said if the gas company work is completed Friday then MDOT crews will start Monday and could have the project completed within two weeks.

If the project is not completed by the time school starts, MDOT plans to work with the school to handle the traffic, Kidd said.