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New Southwest Open School classroom building gets final approval for students to move in

The building had its final inspection and is now occupying students and faculty for two classes. (Courtesy of Casey Simpson)
School has been waiting for final inspection approval since September

Southwest Open School faculty and students were able to move into their new building on Monday after a lengthy process to complete the final inspection.

According to SWOS Director Casey Simpson, the building was technically completed in September 2023, but faculty and students could not move in until the school passed an inspection from the Department of Fire Safety, Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

When the school got on the docket for an inspection, they were 76th in line, and the department only performed six inspections per week. The number of inspections dropped to two per week around the holidays.

In total, it took from the end of September to the beginning of February to get final approval to move in students and staff.

“It was a much longer wait than I expected and was prepared for,” Simpson said. “The teachers, who were supposed to be in that building, had to jump around campus, borrowing other people’s classrooms for the first half of the school year.”

The final inspection was to ensure that fire alarms and emergency lights were properly installed and ready for occupation.

“The ironic part is that all we were needing to put in was smoke detectors,” Simpson said.

Classes will now be able to commence in the new building, which is home to two of the school’s classes. The building houses two classrooms and a new office for the school’s counselor.

“It dragged on for so long that I’m really glad that they’re in it, and they’re super stoked,” Simpson said.

One of the classrooms has a test kitchen for culinary arts, and the other is for science classes complete with laboratory tables.

Simpson said they also installed smart board televisions that will be used as interactive instructional tools for students.

Simpson said the school wants to wait until students and teachers settle into the building before having a grand opening or ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Teachers that have bounced around literally carrying their books and computers and instructional supplies from one class to another are so happy to have their ‘home’ finally. It was a relief for them,” Simpson said.

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