Published in the September 4, 2018 edition.

WAKEFIELD — The Walton School won’t be done on time after all.

In a memo sent to parents Friday, Supt. of Schools Douglas Lyons and Principal Elaina Byrne write that Walton kids will begin their academic year on Monday, Sept. 10, two days later than everyone else. They will also be going to school later than the rest of Wakefield’s public school students in June.

The reason? There’s more work to do.

Significant improvements to alleviate cramped conditions at the West Side’s elementary school were approved in May 2017, when Town Meeting appropriated $5.7 million for the planned upgrade. Proponents of the project also said West Side kindergarteners would be able to attend class at the enlarged educational facility.

Just last week, educators and a representative from the construction management company expressed confidence the school would be ready on time.

But Lyons and Byrne write in the memo sent out at the end of last week that “The construction management team, led by the Permanent Building Committee (PBC) and LEFTFIELD Project Management, completed a walk through on Thursday evening, August 30, with school personnel. Final inspections will be completed over the weekend and teachers will get access to the building next week.

“In order for the school to be prepared, to welcome our students into the best environment possible where teaching and learning can take place, we have decided to change the first day for the Walton Elementary students from Thursday, September 6th, to Monday, September 10th. The two days will be added onto the school calendar at the end of the year as schools must be scheduled for 180 days. The last day for Walton Elementary students will be June 21, 2019.”

September 10 is Rosh Hashanah, a fact not lost on some social media commentators who wish that was not the day Walton students returned to class.

“We know that this change may present some challenges in regard to child care and family work schedules,” Lyons and Byrne continue. “For Walton families who may need a place for their children for the day, we are offering a two-day Wakefield Academy Day Program on Thursday and Friday, September 6th and 7th, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To find out more about the Day Program please contact Matthew Carter, Wakefield Academy Director, by e-mailing or by checking the Wakefield Academy Website for more information.

“During the first weeks of school, the construction team will be working on finishing items in the gymnasium, the art room, and serving area. The PBC and LEFTFIELD Project Management will be coordinating this work and reporting progress at the next PBC meeting on Thursday, September 6th. After that meeting, we will get an update out to parents and the community. The project is so close to completion; the final details take the longest. We know when we are in the new building this challenge will be a distant memory. If you have questions, please contact Principal Byrne or me directly via e-mail at or

“Thank you for your patience and flexibility while the final work is completed,” the letter concludes.

At a School Committee meeting a week ago today, Lyons said he did not think the Walton would open later than the other schools, but said provisions had been made to do that if needed.

Turns out, they are.