HORACE, N.D. — After months of construction under the watchful eyes of administrators' stressfully watching the delayed progress, Horace High School will open its doors to students for the first time this week.

West Fargo Schools Superintendent Beth Slette said Monday, Oct. 25, that the 225 students who will be learning at the district's third high school will be able to enter the building Wednesday, Oct. 27.

The students, who have remained at Heritage Middle School since the start of the 2021-22 school year, attended virtual classes Monday and Tuesday to allow teachers and administrators the time to move into the building and set up classrooms.

"We received the verbal certificate of occupancy today [Monday, Oct. 25]," Slette said. "It's a beautiful facility."

While construction is not yet fully complete, the areas needed for immediate use by teachers and students are ready.

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"We don't need the whole space right away," Slette said.

The timeline was extended after Gast Construction, lead contractor on the project, experienced trouble in obtaining building supplies.

The delay marked the first time in at least 10 years, a new school in the West Fargo School District did not open on the first day of the school year, as planned.

Officials said the delay was due to a number of issues mostly beyond the contractors' control said Mark Lemer, construction coordinator for the district.

Lemer said there had been a "series of challenges" that began even before the groundbreaking while working with the fast growing city of Horace, which had an estimated population of 2,944 in 2019.

He said Gast Construction a experienced many building supply difficulties as, across the world, building supply costs have gone up and availability is very low.

The school district and Gast have worked together on many projects in the past, including Liberty Middle School, the Hulbert Aquatic Center, the Leidal Education Center, Cheney Middle School, Aurora Elementary School and the Sheyenne High School stadium project.

Like most of its building project contracts in the past, the school district does not have penalties for delayed completion. Lemer said the district did not add the clause to any recent building projects as they sometimes still don't cover delays beyond a contractor's control.

The project was planned to open in phases, with the primary building opening for classes in August and music rehearsal spaces, auditoriums and a set of classrooms being finished later in the year. Lemer said the later phases have been pushed back further and what is needed to initially open the building has been dialed down, such as the gym and locker rooms, which will now be finished in a later phase.