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Building for the future

School, district construction programs enhance educational missions

  • 6 min to read

ANDERSON – The sound of buzzing saws and clanking hammers radiated from behind the plywood barrier that separates the existing cafeteria with the extension being built at Tenth Street Elementary School.

Principal D.J. Suchocki said the addition of the space, which hopefully will be open to students sometime this semester, will allow about 60 more students to eat breakfast at the same time, rather than having students wait in the gym while others eat.

“We just didn’t have enough seats to serve the 300 kids we are providing breakfast with in the morning,” he said. “Now that all the students receive free breakfast, more kids come to eat in the morning.”

The lack of space also made it a challenge to usher 500 students through lunch in a two-hour period, Suchocki said.

The cafeteria addition is one of several construction projects under way throughout Anderson Community Schools. Some are funded by the district’s capital fund; others, like the Tenth Street cafeteria and the newly opened Anderson Intermediate School, are paid for through a $41 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2018.

ACS’s construction projects are among many taking place at schools and districts throughout Madison County and surrounding communities.

Though it seems to be a simple meal scheduling problem, Suchocki said the current setup means some students miss up to 20 minutes of instructional time as they waited on their turn to eat.

“We try to get our kids to class as soon as possible. Plus, that really sets the tone for the school day,” he said.

The lack of space also meant the three or four parents daily who wanted to have lunch with their student often had to find a place in the adjacent hallway rather than in the cafeteria, Suchocki said.

He said the design was intended to give the students a homelike feeling.

“Our kids deserve the best,” he said. “It’s not just a cafeteria. It’s the place where you eat. I want them to feel like they’re going into their own kitchen.”

Student safety a prime goal of many school construction projects

ACS Superintendent Timothy Smith said many of the high-profile projects, including the intermediate school, Tenth Street cafeteria and secured entries, are mostly complete.

“I think (taxpayers) are getting a tremendous value for the limited amount of money we have asked them to support us with and that they were gracious enough to allow us,” he said.

The district now is turning its attention to Anderson High School, where plans include a new innovation center and auxiliary gymnasium and improved performing arts area and athletics fields. Those projects are scheduled to be completed in late 2021 or early 2022.

“I think we’re all just anxious to get moving on the high school project,” Smith said.

However, the high school’s construction projects have not been without their glitches.

krM Architecture+ recently reported to the ACS board of trustees that all the bids for the high school project came in too high and will need to be resubmitted. kRM Principal Mike Montgomery told the board this is not unusual and that renewing the bidding process is not expected to add to the time to complete the projects. Here is an update on the construction progress at other districts and schools throughout Madison County and surrounding communities.

ALEXANDRIA

Alexandria Community Schools has a lot of construction happening around the high school and intermediate school because of the bond referendum approved by voters in the 2018 primary election. The intermediate school is beginning to be transformed into the pre-K through grade six building that will open at the start of the 2020-21 school year. The intermediate school will be under some kind of construction all year long. The road connecting the high school and intermediate school has been constructed, and the foundation of the new pre-K to grade two wing is under construction right now.

Additionally, a new entrance, main office and secure entry to the intermediate school is under construction and should be completed around fall break. At Alexandria-Monroe Jr.-Sr. High School, new football lights were installed over the summer, and LED lighting has been installed in the hallways. The site prep work has been started in preparation for the multipurpose gym’s construction later this winter. Some high school classrooms will be updated throughout the school year and through the fall of 2020.

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Workers are in the process of putting a new roof on the 29th Street building. The chiller system was updated this summer as well. The school has also made security door updates to both its campuses. A Charter Innovation grant helped pay for the repairs.

DALEVILLE

Daleville is planning to bid on a security entry and lobby renovation at Daleville Elementary School and on an outdoor restroom/concessions building between the elementary school and Daleville Junior-Senior High School, as well as some lighting retrofits within the next month or so.

Officials are also planning technology upgrades for several classrooms in both buildings.

FRANKTON/LAPEL

Construction projects at Frankton-Lapel Community Schools this summer include the following:

Frankton Elementary School: New security entrance and remodeling of the front office, $125,000; carpet in all the hallways replaced with a hard surface material, $150,000; and replacement of vinyl wallpapering throughout the hallways with drywall and paint, $50,000.

Frankton Jr.-Sr. High School: Remodeled the cafeteria, $250,000; replaced all flat roofs, $550,000; and resurfaced the track.

Lapel Elementary-Middle School: Resurfaced the tennis courts, $120,000; replaced bleachers in gym, $85,000; and resurfaced the track.

Upgrades were also made to the HVAC systems at Frankton Jr/Sr. High, Frankton Elementary and Lapel Elementary and Middle schools, totaling $265,000.

MADISON-GRANT

Madison-Grant’s Jr./Sr. High construction is complete.

Workers renovated the entry system and offices into a single secure entry that provides increased security, as well as efficient access to administrative and guidance services.

The chemistry lab from 1970 was gutted and now has fully updated equipment, including the latest technology that will handle requirements for advanced placement and dual-credit chemistry. The new district administrative office space, within the Jr./Sr. High, is nearly ready for occupancy. After the move is complete, the current office building will be ready for an agency to rent or lease. Currently, officials are working with a group who will be able to provide primary and behavioral health care services to students and community members.

The track and football field received a facelift as well. There is a new press box, ticket booth, concession stand and entry area. There is also a new space for patrons to gather to enjoy additional entertainment or to support the Argyll Action Club. Other projects included over 100,000 square feet of new roofing, all new exterior doors, a renovated locker room, removal of wall carpeting, and new ceiling tiles throughout the hallways and renovated restrooms throughout the original high school structure.

SHENANDOAH

Shenandoah School Corp. has recently completed renovation of its greenhouse. The facility will be used primarily by STEM classes at Shenandoah Middle School, the SMS ‘Doah Growers student group, who grow vegetables for donation to our local food pantries, and the Shenandoah High School agriculture classes and FFA students.

The construction of a new athletic building at the football/track/baseball complex will provide additional ADA-approved restrooms, concession area, ticket windows and a dressing room for SMS football teams and visiting varsity teams. Officials say this is an important safety feature for the SSC campus as it will keep visiting teams and officiating crews from having to walk through game night traffic in the school’s parking lot. This was a concern three to four times each night SHS hosted home varsity football games. Teams and referees had to cross traffic to access dressing and restroom facilities at the middle school. Now everyone will be able to stay in the football area. Renovation to the current athletic building includes improved home team dressing room, training facilities, storage and a dressing room for game officials.

SSC has also completed renovation and improvements to the Shenandoah Elementary School playground. The K-1 playground received several new pieces of equipment, and both playgrounds received new mulch for safety.

Future plans include continued renovation and improvements to indoor academic areas, which began in 2004, and outdoor instructional and recreation areas.

SOUTH MADISON

The construction of an activities center, and renovation of and improvements to Pendleton Heights High School, including construction of wrestling, locker room, and weight room additions are nearly complete. The new locker rooms were ready for the start of school, and the wrestling room, activity center, and weight room should be available within the next week. Site work and the courtyard/main entrance to the new addition should be finished by the end of September.

The project will benefit the corporation with academic endeavors and the co-curricular and extracurricular activities provided to students. An open house for the community to see the completed project will be announced in early October.

LIBERTY CHRISTIAN

Liberty Christian School purchased the former Anderson Christian School/Lindberg Road Church of Christ facility located at 2625 Lindberg Road just over a year ago. The property had been vacant and heavily vandalized for more than three years when Liberty began the extensive renovation project.

Liberty installed a new roofing system, performed smoke damage remediation work throughout the buildings and created a full site plan to guide future stages of development, to turn the church and elementary school into a modern middle school/high school academic facility and sports complex. Liberty has made significant improvements to both its elementary and secondary campuses over the summer, as well.

While internal systems improvements are not as glamorous as new facades and facilities, they are critical for the educational environment to flourish. A comprehensive air conditioning unit has been installed at the elementary, while new interior and exterior paint, landscaping and parking lot repairs have been completed on both campuses.

INDIANA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY

Indiana Christian Academy updated all of its windows, added more secure doors, added new classroom HVAC units for two classrooms and new carpet in two classrooms. The school also is completely updating its chapel auditorium with new chairs, carpet, lights and paint.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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