Under Construction

Construction crews prepare for school year
Posted on 08/03/2015

School administrators are frequently required to wear multiple hats in the education business – this summer in Poplar Bluff it has mainly been the hard hat.

Of late R-I officials have been meeting with project managers on a weekly basis to receive progress reports on Middle School, Junior High and Senior High construction, which ramped up as soon as school let out.

The 2015/16 school year will no doubt be a transitional one, but fortunately the contractors are experts when it comes to school construction, they have assured, with a track record of managing large-scale multi-phase jobs.

“Schools are what we specialize in, so we’re in our element,” stated Tim Smith, K&S Associates field superintendent over the future high school project at the current 5th & 6th Grade Center.

K&S has previously worked with Ittner Architects, the firm over R-I’s long-range plan, on renovations at St. Charles West and East St. Louis schools. The St. Louis-based construction company was also involved in the Lambert International Airport remodel in recent years.

When working around occupied buildings, Smith explained, holidays must be taken advantage of. Johnny Guffey, Zoellner Construction project manager, added that weekends and later hours would be necessary while school is in session.

“Schools are those unapologetic jobs where there is no plan B,” said Guffey, who is overseeing work at the future Middle School on the present Senior High campus along with the Junior High addition. He noted that he has been supplied the academic calendar, and will remain in communication with school administrators to minimize disruption of classes.

On top of building a new elementary school in Cape Girardeau, the Perryville-based company has worked on Southeast Missouri State University’s latest renovation on the rolling hills of the college campus.

Zoellner will construct a 40,000-square-foot addition out front of the high school during the school year, and then replace C-Building with an enclosed playground next fall in order to improve safety and meet growth projections in the student population.

K&S plans to install a roof over the 132,400-square-foot addition of the future high school before winter so crewmembers can work inside during colder months, according to project officials. The new baseball field will be ready for spring season. Bids will be opened for the football stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 12, with completion anticipated in time for the 2016 varsity season. Next summer some internal work on the cafeteria and commons area will take place, along with landscaping around the 80-acre site, which also houses the Technical Career Center.

Bids for the smaller elementary connection projects will tentatively go out late winter, with the entire $50 million buildings plan expected to wrap up for the 2016/17 school year.

“When our committees agreed upon a long-range plan for our campus and the public voted to move forward in April 2014, this transitional period was inevitable,” commented Chris Hon, R-I superintendent. “The only guarantee I conveyed to our staff was inconvenience, but we are remaining mindful that in the end it is for the greater good of the community. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our patrons.”

Hon noted that safety of students and employees would be emphasized while construction is under way. The superintendents’ cabinet has been working with principals to establish protocol for temporary parking and entry points.

At 5&6, parents will enter the campus via Oak Grove Road and loop around the eastern parking lot to the back of the building. There will be designated lanes marked to separate bus traffic. Vehicles must exit the campus on the north end by the TCC via County Road 437, which feeds out to U.S. 67.

At Senior High on Victory Lane, student drop-off will take place at A-Building on Highland Drive on the north side of campus. After school, Highland will be closed along with Woodland and Meadowbrook Lane while buses stack from 2:50-3:10 p.m., after which parents will be permitted to arrive for pick-up. Student drivers will exit via the south end onto Harper Road.

Student parking will be assigned and include the spaces around Kay Porter Theater this year. The Highland Drive Church of Christ has offered use of its parking lot for overflow.

Junior High will proceed as normal, with the exception of teacher parking, which has temporarily been moved to the lower parking lot off Lois Street. The school features newly renovated bathrooms and handicapped accessibility. The federal safe room and nine new classrooms are slated for completion in March.

To keep up with the progress, ‘like’ the construction Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter @pbkidsfuture.

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Cutline: Oak Grove summer school students in first and second grade witness the construction taking place on the 5th & 6th Grade Center campus.

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