Construction begins on new Jasper elementary

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Students from Fifth and Tenth Street Elementary Schools, including first-grader Bella Sanders, left, fourth-grader Jackelyn Diaz, second-grader Aubry Crawford, third-grader Lakshanya Duraikandan and first grader Harlan Haywood, listened to Gibraltar Design architects Jim Thompson and Dale Wagner talk about the new Jasper Elementary School during the ground breaking Monday morning. The new school will combine the populations of both Fifth Street and Tenth Street Elementary Schools and will have students in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.


JASPER — The groundbreaking for the new Jasper Elementary School building was this morning, when about 75 people — contractors, Greater Jasper Schools leadership, elementary students and community members — gathered at the school’s future location on North Portersville Road near Jasper Middle School to ceremoniously celebrate the start of construction.

Superintendent Tracy Lorey said the event marked the end of one chapter in the school’s creation and the beginning of the next. Now, contractors will begin site work at the location — 3799 N. Portersville Road — before they set the foundation.

The 111,132-square-foot elementary school will be fit for approximately 850 students in pre-K through fifth grade when it opens at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The building will bring together the populations of both Fifth Street School and Tenth Street Elementary. According to information from Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools, the school’s design includes enhanced safety features and incorporates learning environments conducive to small-group instruction and STEM exploration.

“As we break ground on Jasper Elementary School, let us be reminded that the completion of this school will serve our students for many, many, many years to come,” Lorey said at the event. “And we believe the design of this school will fulfill our desires to provide the Jasper community with educational facilities that are safe, that are functional and that are future-ready.”

Total, the school will feature six kindergarten rooms, four pre-K rooms, 30 general classrooms, a STEM classroom and a cafeteria with a stage. It will also have art and music rooms and a library.

The project’s base bids, totaling $25,794,235, were officially awarded at the school board meeting last month. Alternate bid specifications are still being discussed and will be presented at tonight’s school board meeting. Soft costs will also add to the final cost of the project.

Should the alternates being presented be approved by the board tonight, the total cost of the project will be $36,666,385. That number includes a little more than $5 million in a bond anticipation note that was used to front some of the project’s initial costs.

Jim Thompson — president of Gibraltar Design, the firm that designed the school — praised the Jasper community at the event for the area’s legacy of highly valuing education.

“Every community is unique, every community is different,” he said. “Every community goes about their school education business differently. But what you have here in Jasper is very, very unique, and something to be cherished.”

Thompson said the building will be a great institution for learning for several decades.

The possibility of constructing the combined elementary school was first mentioned at the school board’s February 2017 meeting in response to a study that showed nearly $20 million in necessary repairs at Fifth Street School and Tenth Street Elementary. That report did not include the cost of lessening the potential flooding problems at both schools, which could have cost additional millions. The school board officially OK’d the Jasper Elementary project last June.

“We did everything we could to solve those problems, and they could not be solved,” board president Bernie Vogler said. “There was no guarantee we could solve them. So, we ended up doing this, and I think from what I’ve heard, we’ve never had one remonstrator, and all I’ve ever heard personally is that we did the right thing.”

Fifth Street Elementary Principal Ryan Erny, left, and Tenth Street Elementary Principal Kent Taylor, right, broke ground for the new Jasper Elementary School with their students Monday morning.
Gibraltar Design architects Dale Wagner, left, and Jim Thompson unveiled a rendering of the new Jasper Elementary School as a gift for the school during the ground breaking Monday morning.
Jasper School Board President Bernie Vogler talked about the new Jasper Elementary School before breaking ground Monday morning.

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