Construction is well underway for the Elementary School Building Renovation Project. While driving down National Avenue, many people can see the changes taking place at East Side Elementary.
Recently, Clay Community School Corporation Building and Grounds Director Tom Reberger discussed some of the changes with The Brazil Times.
According to Reberger, the additions at Staunton, Meridian and East Side elementary schools are going well and the concrete block and steel framework is progressing on schedule.
At Van Buren, Clay City and Forest Park elementary schools, the renovations have started inside the existing buildings.
At Jackson Township Elementary, the sewage treatment plant has been eliminated and a sanitary sewage line is in operation to the city of Brazil, and a partial window retrofit will be installed this summer. Though the construction is going on, students are still having classes.
"We are using the same technique as we did with Jackson Township," Reberger said. "We are relocating classes and doing demolition."
Even with the inconvenience of classes being moved and different entrances into the buildings, the staff and faculty are handling everything well.
"The construction crew has been wonderful," Van Buren Principal Gail Williams said. "They have been very mindful of classes."
According to Reberger, there are at least two representatives from the Skillman Corporation at every school every day.
Reberger, as well, is in constant contact with the construction teams and continues to make routine trips to each school.
The Building Renovation process began in 2005, with an original proposal of $53 million in August 2007, which included a new bus garage and central office.
It was then cut to approximately $26 million, which included work at all the elementary schools and the security upgrades at North Clay Middle School, Northview High School and Clay City Jr./Sr. High School.
On Feb. 18, 2008, after numerous work sessions, the trustees voted unanimously to go ahead with the building project.
Then a petition remonstrance was filed March 24, 2008.
From Aug. 7-Sept. 8, 2008, individuals were asked to sign either a petition in favor or against the project.
On Oct. 17, 2008, there were 2,480 qualified signatures in favor of the project and 521 qualified petition signatures against the project in Clay County.
Qualified signatures in Parke County were 16 for the project and none against it.
On Nov. 14, 2008, in a 5-1 vote, the board moved to move forward with the construction timeline and the authorization of the construction team to proceed with schematic designs of all projects.
Board member Forrest Buell opposed the move, while board member Dottie King was not in attendance.
Groundbreaking ceremonies took place Wednesday, Sept. 30, at Staunton, Meridian and East Side, and Thursday, Oct. 1, at Van Buren, Forest Park and Clay City. Construction began soon after.
All of the renovation projects involve new plumbing, electrical systems, additional computer access, more functional floor plans and updated kitchens.
Each school will meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
"Many of the buildings will be getting a new roof, energy efficient windows and exterior doors," Reberger said. "Inside the classrooms, there will be new doors with a high security locking system."
As construction continues, Reberger said he was grateful for the support of the community, especially those benefiting from the project.
"The students, staff and parents' cooperation has been excellent thus far," he said. "There have been some inconveniences but it will be worth it."