Prefabricated components for a 7,200-square-foot elementary school addition at the South Nodaway R-IV School campus in Barnard arrived Monday morning, and general contractor Lee Grover Construction of St. Joseph was expected to begin erecting the structure as soon as possible.
A small crew was on site as a large crane began to unload what will become the addition's steel frame. When completed the brick-and-corrugated metal structure will wrap around the existing high school and middle school perched atop a concrete pad foundation poured earlier this winter.
R-IV Superintendent Kyle Collins said the arrival of the structural components and completion of the pad means construction is back on track after slipping behind schedule late last year due to design issues.
The timeline calls for the six-classroom facility to be completed by July 21, though moving furnishings and equipment into the addition will likely begin a couple of weeks before that.
When it opens at the beginning of the 2013-'14 school year, the addition will replace an aging elementary school in nearby Guilford, which district officials say has become inefficient and expensive to maintain.
South Nodaway voters approved a $1.1 million bond issue last April to pay for the new construction. In addition to elementary classrooms, the scope of the project includes offices, a commons area and remodeling of an existing cafeteria and special needs classroom.
Collins said much of the kitchen gear, classroom equipment and furniture from the Guilford campus remains in good shape and will be moved into the enlarged school, which is slated to become the district's only instructional facility. Office furniture and other items will be replaced "as needed," Collins said, but comprise only a fraction of the bond funding.
The soon-to-be-closed school has long been the heart of Guildford, a town of fewer than 90 residents located 20 miles southeast of Maryville and five miles east of Barnard. The school has a reputation for academic success and was designated a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009.
However, South Nodaway, which was created when the Barnard and Guilford districts merged in 1952, only has 180 students — about 90 each in elementary school and at the combined middle school/high school.
That, plus structural problems, rising transportation costs and high utility bills, simply made the Guilford campus impractical, the R-IV School Board reluctantly decided.
Though the closing of yet another rural school is always hard a community, Collins said the district's elementary pupils will be better served by a classroom complex designed for efficiency and broader access to technology.
"The teachers and staff have created a really positive school atmosphere over there, but the building itself has problems," Collins said. "We've already got a good school, we're just going to put it in a better building."
Page 2 of 2 - The need for improved technology resources was one of the factors that drove the decision to build new classrooms. The high school/ middle building went completely wireless a couple of months ago, Collins said, and the elementary addition will be Wi-Fi as well.
He said the upgrade will further the district's move toward a "one-on-one" technology model in which every student has access to a laptop, tablet or other portable Internet device.
To that end, R-IV recently purchased 13 new Samsung Chromebooks, which will be used to facilitate "paperless" school board meetings in addition to being available for students to check out.
"We're moving toward the more tablet-type technology rather than desktop computers," Collins said. "We want to make sure that we'll be able to be mobile."