Renovations Unveiled at Christopher Elementary School

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By Michelle Madaras

CHRISTOPHER  -- Students at Christopher Elementary are back in class, a week later than most kids in southern Illinois. The late start was planned as the kids and their teachers move into newly renovated and expanded classrooms. 

Since November, crews have been working hard to get the building ready in time for the new school year.

Teacher Gretchen Martin says everyone is excited to make the transition.

"It feels nice to be settled and the kids are settled, and they know this is where they're going to be for a long time," she says.

But things are still not entirely finished. Principal Roy Kirkpatrick says bad weather put the construction nearly two months behind.

"There was a lot of cold days they couldn't do things, so cold they couldn't pour concrete a couple days. It was so windy they couldn't be putting bricks up," he explains.

The renovated classrooms include new security features.

"The windows are higher so that the sunlight can come in, but there's still the safety factor that the children cannot be seen from the outside," says Kirkpatrick.
 
And the new layout addresses other concerns. 
 
Martin says as a teacher she can keep a closer eye on her students. One example is near the restrooms where kids tend to cause trouble while out of sight.
 
"The sinks, they can only go to the bathroom in the bathroom, so when they come out we can see and we can eliminate or diffuse any situations."
 
Kirkpatrick says the building inspector approved the start of classes, but the exterior, playground and gym still need to be finished. The construction should be finished by mid-October. After that, the school plans to hold a public open house.
 
The $6.2 million dollar project is being funded by a 1-percent sales tax increase passed in April 2011 in Franklin County.
 
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