Saturday, Dec 7, 2013
Shawnee School District Breaks Ground on New Addition
UNION COUNTY -- A local school district is breaking ground on a big expansion. The new space will bring all of the students under one roof.
The Shawnee School District covers 400 square miles in Union, Alexander, and Jackson Counties. Right now, the district has elementary students divided into a north school in Grand Tower and a south school in McClure. Those younger students will join the junior high and high schoolers at the district headquarters in Wolf Lake next year.
On Thursday, the elementary kids were in Wolf Lake to help with the groundbreaking.
"They're excited about new classrooms, new teachers, a new playground, and making new friends," said Elementary Principal Amy Reynolds.
The Shawnee District applied for state funding more than a decade ago to build a new high school.
"This groundbreaking is the result of ten years of patience and persistence as we waited for our number to be called by the capital development board," said Superintendent Shelly Clover-Hill.
Howver, their enrollment changed as time passed. When the $2 million finally arrived last year, they decided on a new elementary school instead. The entire project, with funding from the district, will cost about $3.4 million.
The 11,000 square foot addition will house all the kindergarten through fifth grade students.
"They've been rivals for so long," said Reynolds. "Just them coming together, that's a big deal."
The consolidation could help the district save money on operating costs and transportation.
The junior high and high school is roughly the middle point between the north and south elementary schools. The two buildings are 26 miles apart and sometimes share their resources.
"Right now, the secretary travels between two buildings," said Reynolds. "I travel between two buildings as a principal."
Reynolds and other school leaders have been preparing for the move. They've been talking with the kids about their fears.
"They're worried about the possibility of mean teachers and those mean high schoolers," said Reynolds.
They've also been having them spend time together at events, like the groundbreaking on Thursday.
The district will now be racing the weather to finish the addition by August. The addition needs to be roofed before winter.
However, Reynolds is thrilled about the new opportunities for her young students next year.
"Maybe have the high school kids come down, tutor, you know work with the kids," said Reynolds. "I think that's a great advantage."
The addition is also being built with an extra kindergarten room. That way the district can split a larger class or possibly bring back the Pre-K program.
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