Southern Boone County School District seeks money for school addition

Saturday, March 8, 2008 | 5:05 p.m. CST; updated 1:23 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

ASHLAND — Ashland fifth graders could be moving to a new building if a bond issue is approved by voters in April.

The Southern Boone County R-1 School District is seeking $1.7 million to add a fifth-grade wing onto Southern Boone County Elementary School. The money would come at no tax increase to voters.

Southern Boone County Elementary School opened its doors to third and fourth graders last fall. The original design incorporated space for fifth-grade classes, but because there wasn’t enough money, the fifth graders stayed in Southern Boone County Middle School this year. The elementary school wants the bond money so they can construct the necessary facilities to move the fifth graders into their building.

“This bond issue is going to allow us to complete (the elementary school),” Southern Boone County Superintendant Charlotte Miller said. “And then make any adjustments so we can continue to use (the middle school).”

Such adjustments would include technological updates and ensuring that the school has modern facilities.

“That’s what we are finding in older buildings, is the need for modern facilities,” Miller said. “Electric power is an issue in older buildings. ADA requirements are an issue in older buildings. We want to make sure the technology is cutting edge.”

If the bond issue passes, the new fifth-grade wing will have six classrooms. Miller said space is needed for a growing school district.

“We grow about 40 to 50 students a year here in Ashland,” she said.

The fifth-grade wing will also include a technology lab, a teacher workroom, a room for special services and additional restrooms.

Fifth-grade teacher Abby Beetsma said she thinks her students’ educational needs are met in the middle school location, but feels that developmentally it is best for fifth grade-students to be in the elementary school.

“I don’t want anybody to be concerned about the quality of education their kids are getting here,” Beetsma said. “I just think for that age it is best for them to be the leaders of the school. We like to give them that responsibility.”

Miller echoed Beetsma’s sentiment that fifth graders have different developmental needs.

“Fifth grade is still elementary,” Miller said. “Third, fourth and fifth grade is a nice developmental configuration. Fifth grade you can get them ready for that transition to sixth, but in sixth grade they are moving from class to class which takes a lot of organization from a student.”

Southern Boone County Middle School Principal Bob Simpson said there have been very few complaints about the bonding issue or the spending of funds so far. A previous bonding issue funded the construction of the third- and fourth-grade classrooms and allowed for air conditioning in all facilities.

“There have been some people that have asked why we didn’t do everything at once,” he said. “Its just a matter of bonding capacity.” Bonding capacity limits how much money the district could receive with each bond.

Miller said that the Southern Boone County R-1 School District uses Septagon Construction Management for construction and Peckham and Wright, a Columbia-based architectural company, for architectural development.

If the bond is approved by voters, Simpson said the fifth grade wing could be finished as early as 2009.

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