Jasper Elementary on track for 2020 openingJuly 31, 2019
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — The scraping sound of masons installing the brick veneer on the exterior of the future Jasper Elementary School filled the construction site Tuesday as crews worked to turn the building’s skeleton into a structure that more resembles a school.
“There’s a lot of trades working at the same time,” said Clerk of the Works Todd Hopf with Stenftenagel Group. “We’ve got electricians, [crews laying] sheet metal, masons.”
The crews are almost exactly a year into construction of the building — site work began in May 2018 with construction beginning in August of the same year — and the crews’ hard work is paying off.
The structure is located on the city’s north side along Portersville Road next to Jasper Middle School. Once completed, the $25 million building will span 111,000 feet and hold about 800 elementary students, bringing together Fifth and Tenth Street elementaries together under its roof.
Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools decided to build a new elementary school in June 2017 after a facilities study showed nearly $20 million in necessary repairs at Fifth Street and Tenth Street. That report did not include the cost of lessening the potential flooding problems at both schools, which could have cost additional millions.
Right now, the fate of Fifth and Tenth Street elementaries is unknown. Superintendent Tracy Lorey said school officials have had discussions about what could be done with those buildings, such as demolishing them to clear the way for additional parking at Alumni Stadium and Ruxer Field, but no decisions have been made. The corporation also holds a deed agreement with the Catholic Diocese of Evansville for Tenth Street.
Lorey said the corporation also has some hoops to jump through with the Indiana Department of Education before it can do anything with the buildings. Once Greater Jasper moves out of the buildings, they must be listed as unused school buildings with the IDOE for 30 days to give potential charter schools an opportunity to express interest in them. If there is no interest, Lorey said, the school corporation can then act on the properties.
“There’s really nothing that’s been decided, but there’s a lot of opportunities for discussion and exploring,” Lorey said.
Construction of Jasper Elementary is being headed up by general contractor Danco Construction of Evansville and is on schedule to be completed by April 1, 2020. School staff will move into the building that summer and classes will start in the building that fall.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff coming in that summer furniture wise,” Hopf said.
Meeting the deadline shouldn’t be a problem, he said, even with the wet year. Much of the building has a temporary roof over it, so crews can work on the inside when it rains.
In the mechanical room, the boilers that are part of the heating and cooling system and the master electrical system are being set in place, and ducts are being installed throughout the building, as are the basic electrical work and fire sprinkler system.
“A lot of things you don’t see from the street have been happening,” Hopf said.
Still, drivers passing the construction site on Portersville or Ackerman roads can see the red brick beginning to cover the exterior walls that had been concrete masonry unit blocks, and some sod work is also being done. In the southwest corner of the site, crews have started pouring sidewalks.
The project has gone smoothly for the most part, Hopf said, with the biggest challenge coming from the weather.
“It’s been extremely wet,” Hopf said.
The site has held up well with all the rain, he added. The retention system has done its job, although there were some minor issues on the site’s south end near the middle school, which are being addressed.
Once Jasper Elementary opens, it will be connected to the middle school via a connector street that will also provide parents who have students at both schools a way to travel between the buildings at drop-off and pickup times without having to reenter public roads.
The middle school will launch a new traffic pattern this school year to get parents used to the change. A story on the new traffic pattern was in Monday’s Herald.
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