The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • St. James Schools construction slated for completion in June

  • The St. James R-I School District will host a grand opening in August to unveil the completed middle school, high school and multi-purpose sports area.
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  • The St. James R-I School District will host a grand opening in August to unveil the completed middle school, high school and multi-purpose sports area.
    All projects, which totaled approximately $3.7 million, will be completed by the end of June, Superintendent Joy Tucker told the Phelps County Commission last week at St. James City Hall.
    "This may be the first project in my time here that will be ahead of schedule," Tucker said while knocking on wood.
    The projects were funded by a $3.2 million proposition bond issue that passed by referendum in April 2013. Tucker said an estimated $500,000 was also added to fund the project.
    Construction began in November 2013, and the high school and middle school projects should be finished by the end of May, and the track and football field are slated for a late June completion.
    Improvements at both schools include main entrances with visitor checkpoints, where visitors will have to be buzzed in, along with up-to-date camera systems, Tucker said.
    The middle school will also have three new classrooms, and the high school will have two new classrooms and a new office area.
    At the April 29 commission meeting, Tucker showed construction photos that outlined progress on the new middle school classrooms, new flooring at the middle school and new drainage upgrades at the high school.
    "I'm extremely excited about getting the new space at the middle school, which we desperately needed," Tucker said in a later interview. "And the new entrance will help address issues with security.
    "The high school will get a couple classes off the second story, and at the same time, it gives us a more locked down front entrance so we know who's coming and going."
    Tucker complimented the construction crews, saying they took few days off and worked through all sorts of weather.
    While the track is out of commission, St. James students have been using Rolla's track. Tucker said Mary Lou Corn swapped land with the district for the track upgrades. A large wall has been built behind the track.
    The improved track will bring St. James track-and-field athletes back home to compete, as the school hasn't hosted a meet in more than 20 years, Tucker said.
    "Now we're going to have something that they can be proud of," Tucker said. "Obviously it will address our soccer issue — boys and girls soccer — along with band, football and track. It will be something that the community can use as an exercise track as well."
    Also at the commission meeting, Tucker talked about the Connected to Learning (C2L) program, and how technology is being incorporated into classrooms, especially at the high school, where every high school student now has a laptop.
    To limit students from misusing the technology, such as sending inappropriate emails or making threats, Tucker is notified almost instantly of any misuse.
    Page 2 of 2 - Tucker said she was unsure if the district will ever go "totally paperless" but many students are turning in assignments to teachers by email and Google docs.
    District officials are also looking at the possibility of issuing laptops at the middle school next year.
    "Once we get these tools in the students hands, it levels the playing field," she said, noting that about 62 percent of the district's students are eligible for free or reduced price lunches.
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