Worker Shortage Slowed School Construction

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) A construction worker shortage in southern Utah postponed the opening of a new public school by six months.
 
Legacy Elementary should have been finished in the middle of last year, but a series of large-scale construction projects lured subcontractors away from the school. 
 
East Elementary teachers use every spare minute moving into the new Legacy Elementary School.
 
“We are supposed to be in here Monday. Today is Wednesday and we are working hard to get here on Monday,” Heidi Wilsted said.  
 
Wilsted never held her breath when first told she’d move in to her new fifth grade classroom last summer. 
 
“I never take anything completely serious with St. George construction. You’re just like, ‘August? Sure’,” Wilsted said. 
 
The St. George area is in the middle of a construction boom. 
 
Dixie Regional Medical Center’s expansion is hailed as the county’s largest construction project ever. Up on the newly named “Tech Ridge,” Dixie Applied Technology College hopes to finish a new $43 million facility this fall. 
 
Washington County School District spokesperson Steven Dunham said administration quickly realized there weren’t enough construction workers to go around. 
 
“But with the nature of growth in St. George, subcontractors were getting pulled off the job to do other projects in Vegas and everywhere, so our project slowed down,” Dunham said. 
 
Crews hustle installing fiber-optic lines Wednesday.
 
Because of the competition for sub-contractors, the district had to pay an additional $800,000 more for Legacy Elementary. 
 
The two-story school west of the Dixie Sunbowl replaces 61-year-old East Elementary. 
 
“We were hoping to get the kids in over winter break and still there were so many things, we were like, ‘No. We want the school done. We aren’t going to move them in half-finished,” Dunham said. 
 
While the move will be quick, Wilsted said, it the new school is better late than never. 
 
“We get to have this brand new school building and it is kind of a crown of St. George right now. I think it is really exciting for everybody,” Wilsted said. 
 
Washington County School District is planning to open three more new schools by 2019.
 

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