The opening of a new middle school in northwest Moncton has been pushed back.
Nancy Champion, a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, said construction is expected to be "mostly complete" by November 2019, pushing the opening date into early 2020.
That's a change from the fall 2019 opening the province announced in 2017 for the $26.5-million, as yet unnamed school.
The education department did not provide an interview on the delay. Champion said in an email the target completion date was pushed back before construction began based on how long similar construction projects take to finish.
The new school for about 700 students in grades 6 to 8 was built to address overcrowding in the two kindergarten-to-Grade 8 schools, Northrop Frye and Evergreen Park School.
Once the new school opens, middle school grades will be moved from Evergreen and Northrop Frye. Both schools will then become kindergarten-to-Grade 5 schools.
Harry Doyle, the chair of the Anglopohone East Eistrict Education Council, expressed frustration with the delay.
"There's quite a cost of delaying it and keeping two schools going and changing in the middle of the year," Doyle said Tuesday.
Gregg Ingersoll, superintendent of Anglophone East School District, said the delay poses logistical challenges. Merging the schools mid-year means planning classes in advance so students stick with their peers and teachers.
That may mean bussing some students who would normally go to one school to the other for the fall.
Another cost is to the teaching time if the move can't be done during the Christmas break.
Ingersoll said students may need to stay home for several days while teachers move and set up the new school.
"If you move in the summer, there's no kids to be moved, nothing like that," Doyle said. "You can just put the trucks in, bring the desks and the books and that sort of stuff. If you move in the middle of the year, it's a whole different thing."
Northrop Frye, which opened in Moncton's north end in 2011, has a capacity of 694 students.
It had 773 students enrolled in fall 2017 and several portable classrooms on site to boost capacity.
Evergreen, built in 1996, has a capacity of 925 and had 764 students enrolled last fall.
The north end is a rapidly developing area of the city.
Over the past year, the city has approved several additional subdivisions, large apartment buildings, daycares and a special care home in the area.
Mayor Dawn Arnold said earlier this year said the new schools in the area are "game changers" that have driven development.
A name has not yet been picked for the new north end school. Anglophone East in November launched a naming contest open to current and former Evergreen and Northrop Frye students.
The post on the district website — stating the school will open in "fall of 2019" — says three submissions made by Dec. 21 will be forwarded to the province for consideration.
Ingersoll said despite the challenges the delay creates, he's pleased the district will have a new school.