By Kelsey Ryan
JOPLIN, Mo. —
If everything goes according to the plans of district officials and architects, groundbreaking for new schools will begin on May 22.
But there are several hurdles that must be cleared between now and then, including FEMA requirements and a $62 million bond issue that will go before voters on April 3.
At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, board members unanimously approved updated architectural renderings from Jim Stufflebeam, vice president of Sapp Design Associates Architects, based in Springfield, for the exterior of Irving Elementary, as well as from Chad Greer of Corner, Greer and Associates, of Joplin, and members of the DLR Group out of Overland Park, Kan., who are working on the proposed Joplin High School.
“Obviously, it’s a symbolic gesture to the rebuilding efforts that are taking place,” Greer said in an interview after the meeting. “Nobody wants to find themselves in this position, but a year into it, taking an opportunity to recognize that event in this process is important.”
Irving Elementary, which is slated to be built on land that was part of the site of St. John’s Regional Medical Center, could be ready for students by August 2013 if the current timeline is kept. Stufflebeam said he and his team have been working with students on design concepts and the renderings of the exterior of the school that he presented the board, which were later approved.
“We learned a lot from the children, and you can sum that up in one word — color,” Stufflebeam told the board. “That redirected our design and was very helpful for us.”
At the new high school, architects showed a 3D rendering of what they envision the front of the school to look like. For safe rooms at the new school, architects plan to have a community shelter on the south side of Kaminsky Gymnasium and several safe rooms in different areas of the building for quick access by students.
Plans for the high school have the design of the building integrated with the curriculum, Greer said. The new building will combine “studio” and “lab” spaces for students, which will make the building flexible for years to come as needs change, he said. The new building will combine JHS with Franklin Technology Center. The new curriculum that is being developed centers on career pathways, which will introduce students to careers early on, district officials say.
A presentation by Superintendent C.J. Huff over the bond issue proposal also topped the board’s agenda. Huff showed charts that break down the district’s budget and financial hurdles. He also discussed the levies of other districts in the area.
Huff also clarified the “River Runs Through It” design concept architects presented at a previous board meeting, stating that the creek planned on the JHS campus is a drainage solution and will save the district about $2 million to have it above ground.
During the meeting, the board also approved adopting the JHS fight song, and evaluated the English as a Second Language program.
Tuesday night also marked the first of several parent information meetings about the bond issue that will be put on at various schools in the district. Huff noted during the board meeting that he was told 62 parents attended the meeting at Jefferson Elementary.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for a work session at 5:30 p.m. and meeting a 7 p.m. on March 27 at the district’s administration offices at 3901 E. 32nd St.