This rendering provided by RSU 24 shows the preliminary design for the new Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan. Credit: Courtesy of RSU 24

The opening of a new regional middle and high school in eastern Hancock County has been delayed for a week while construction crews finish their work.

The first day of school at the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus, which will house grades six through 12, was supposed to be on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Instead, students will have their first day on Monday, Sept. 12.

“I write this letter with great frustration and exasperation as RSU #24 has done everything within its power to return students on the originally scheduled date,” Michael Eastman, Regional School Unit 24’s superintendent, wrote in a letter to parents in late August. “However, due to circumstances beyond our control, we find ourselves in this situation.”

Eastman did not return a message from the Bangor Daily News on Monday.

The project, located on Route 1 in Sullivan, was given the green light by voters in the district’s nine towns in June 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic. The new building, projected to cost more than $40 million, is replacing Sumner Memorial High School, which was built in the 1950s.

Built behind the former high school, the former high school will be demolished and replaced with an athletic field once the new school is completed.

Classes for students in kindergarten through 5th grade started on Tuesday at other schools in the district, all of which are becoming K-5 schools instead of serving students through 8th grade.

The goal of building a new school is not just to provide students with modern facilities, but to consolidate more of the district’s operations with the goal of reducing costs, Eastman said previously.

The new school will have space for about 500 students, which is roughly double the number of students who attended the old high school. Overall, the district has approximately 850 students.

RSU 24 serves the Hancock County towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Gouldsboro, Mariaville, Sorrento, Steuben, Sullivan, Waltham and Winter Harbor, and the Washington County town of Steuben.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....