Construction and renovations are approaching as plans are set in place to better the education of the students in the RE-2 district. By the 2022- 2023 school year, the district will have a complete makeover. Until then, students will have to endure the organized chaos of construction. After the 4E bond and Mill Levy Override passed in November, the district has created a timeline for the project and designs should be finalized in September, projecting the new high school construction to break ground in January of 2021.
The 4E bond granted the district $128.5 million to construct a new school, develop better security, provide more parking, create better schooling programs, and more. The Mill Levy Override provided an additional $1.5 million to go towards funds to support safety, mental health, maintenance costs, and the recruitment and retention of quality teachers and staff.
The current middle school will be remodeled to become a larger and more modernized elementary school and the current high school will become more accommodating to younger ages as it is morphed into a new-and-improved middle school. Galton and BEES will also be receiving renovations to enhance the learning for all students in the district. A completely new high school will be constructed on the land south of the recreational center.
As the high school undergoes construction and accommodations for middle school students. This means the student body and staff will have to work and learn around the construction and remodeling. The current modulars behind the school and STEM building will move to either the staff parking lot or in the grass lot to the east of the ag-shop. for at least two school years in order to extend the footprint of the current building.
A total of 12 modulars will be added to the high school to provide classrooms during the remodeling project. The upper floor of the 1928 building will be the first to experience remodeling, pushing the classes out and into the modulars until they are complete. As soon as the upper floor is completed, the ground floor will be next to fill the temporary classrooms. The process of departments shifting to modulars will continue throughout the next two years.
The construction on the current high school will begin summer of 2021. Contrary to current rumors in the hall, this summer will not be extended. In fact, school will be starting on August 14 of this year. But the 2021 and 2022 summers will definitely be extended due to the construction. The length of the school day will not be extended next year, also contrary to popular belief. But the days will be extended the following year by five to ten minutes to meet the required amount of hours.
Upperclassmen will have to endure the construction without experiencing the final product. Although there may be a lot of cons to this, social studies teacher, Doug Preston said this year’s sophomores can definitely take some pride in some things.“There is some novelty in being the last graduating classes from this school, because there is a lot of history and tradition here,” he said. But the freshman will. They have a new school and new experience to look forward to as they ride out the construction.
The end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 is dedicated to permitting the designs for the new schools. Once the ground has been broken for the new high school, renovations to the middle school and elementary school will begin later that summer.
The new school will include features that will improve the education of the student body. These features include larger and more individualized performing art programs and classrooms, a larger cafeteria, improved agriculture programs, more accommodating science classrooms, ect.
All the land around the building will be brimming with athletics such as new baseball, softball, flex, and soccer fields. With tennis courts, a new football/track field, and more parking for the students.
Although building designs should take at least six more months to finalize, there is currently a conceptual design that shows the basics of the new school. The design is based on the feeling of “home” according to the district website. There will be a large common area, similar to that of a living room, and classrooms to the sides and through different hallways, reflecting the layout of a private room in a home. The design is still in debate and changes are destined to come. These designs and changes can be found on the district website.
Although the next few years will be a challenge, Jay Tapia said, “My biggest goal is to make sure that all grade levels have a solid education. As solid as the years before. Obviously, to get through this and end up with a nice product is a great goal, as far as building wise. But, students wise, I don’t want it to impact our learning. I want to reduce that as much as possible.”
Overall, there is one goal through this project: To create a more advanced educational experience for the students. Superintendent Bridget Muse said, “The board wants to deliver on its promises. This means they want to do everything we said we would do during the bond campaign and exceed expectations if possible. It is also important to deliver a quality product that will last for several generations. I am excited to see the transformation of the existing schools (EHS and EMS) as well. We want the staff and students to feel like they are getting a ‘new’ middle school and ‘new’ elementary school as well.”