Workers with an electrical firm install equipment outside the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. The opening of the new school, which will serve students in grades 6 through 12, has been delayed and its use will be limited while officials find a way to boost the water supply for its fire sprinkler system. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Students who were set to start the school year at the new Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus this week will have to wait a little bit longer to get back to the classroom.

The new campus, which has been under construction throughout the summer, is not ready to welcome students and teachers back in-person, the Ellsworth American reported. The school ran into last-minute fire sprinkler issues that delayed the school year until Wednesday, but a new assessment has pushed the start of in-person classes back even further.

The construction has been drawn out longer than officials anticipated, and the new campus is not suitable for students and teachers to work in at this time, according to the Ellsworth newspaper.

Classes will start remotely on Monday, Sept. 19 for students in grades 6 through 12, and school officials expect to make a decision on whether students can be brought back to in-person classes by Oct. 6, nearly a month after Regional School Unit 24 originally anticipated opening the new school.

Officials recently discovered that the school had an insufficient water supply for the sprinkler system, which seriously limited the number of rooms that would have been open to students and staff.

Sumner’s water problem stems from the local Long Pond Water District, which can’t pump enough water to the school to simultaneously discharge every sprinkler head in the building for 60 minutes, which is a requirement for the school to receive a certificate of occupancy.

Because of the sprinkler water supply issue, the local code enforcement officer has issued only a temporary certificate of occupancy, which carries certain limitations on the use of the building, according to RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman.

Even after the latest construction delays are resolved, there will be limited use within the building for the first few months, and only students and teachers will be allowed inside.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.