Jasper Elementary one month from completion

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Danco Construction employees Dillon Hedinger and Joe Joffray install ceiling tile in the special needs suite at Jasper Elementary School on Monday. The special needs suite will include two connected classrooms, two sensory rooms, a bathroom with a shower and a laundry room.

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — When Fifth Street Elementary Principal Ryan Erny walks through Jasper Elementary, he’s often snapping pictures.

Construction crews are finishing up the inside, hanging ceilings, laying carpet, installing bathrooms and sanding the terrazzo flooring. With less than a month left until substantial completion, the building looks almost ready for students and teachers, and Erny wants to share that with his staff.

The photos also help Erny and his staff plan for the move to the new building — located north of Jasper Middle School on Portersville Road — this summer.

“I’ve been encouraging teachers to purge some things they no longer use,” Erny said.

So far, teachers have come up with old science kits and math manipulatives that came with now-out-of-date textbooks and handouts from years of professional development events. Erny expects most of the downsizing to happen over spring break or in the last few weeks of May once school lets out.

While teachers and staff at Fifth Street and Tenth Street schools — which will combine to fill the halls of Jasper Elementary when the 2020-21 school year starts in August — are only just beginning the process of packing for the big move, construction crews are wrapping up their work. Site manager Todd Hopf with the Stenftenagel Group said the project is on track for substantial completion by April 1.

Rosa Mosaic & Tile Company employee Steve Ison grinds the flooring in the cafeteria at Jasper Elementary School on Monday.

“It’s mostly finish work going on throughout the building,” Hopf said.

Walking through the construction site, it’s easy to imagine the halls bustling with students. The gym is nearly complete with four basketball hoops hanging from the ceiling and a digital scoreboard. An American flag hangs against one wall, ready for kids to face with hands over their hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Between the gym and the cafeteria sits a stage area accessible from either room that will soon be home to holiday shows and plays, and although an industrial sander is still finishing up the cafeteria floor, it’s clear where the lunch tables will soon sit.

Along the hallways, classrooms are ready for furniture to be moved in. The marker boards, Diversiboards — which are touchscreen projector boards — and about 30 cubbies per classroom are already installed. The special needs suite, too, is coming together. Once finished, the suite will have two classrooms, its own bathroom equipped with a shower, a laundry facility and sensory rooms.

Outside, both the main playground and the “tot lot” for kindergarten and preschool students have been installed, and the exterior masonry is mostly complete.

While construction crews finish up their work ahead of the April 10 delivery of new furniture for the school, Erny said the excitement is growing among his staff. Among the students, not so much yet. Although teachers and staff have told their students, who range from preschool to second grade, about the move and the merger with Tenth Street, Erny figures they’re still too young to fully understand what that means.

Jasper Elementary School's "tot lot" is a playground near the preschool and kindergarten wing.

“I don’t think they’ve grasped how big this really is,” Erny said.

Tenth Street Principal Kent Taylor said his students, who range in age from third to fifth grade, understand what’s happening, but will still need to live the change to fully appreciate it. Of course, Taylor said, that will be the case for the adults, too.

“Young and old alike are going to have to grow,” he said.

When Jasper Elementary opens, Taylor will be principal, and Erny will be assistant principal. The two have already been working together — along with staff committees — to work out daily operations for Jasper Elementary and to be proactive about possible challenges. The master schedule was the biggest challenge so far, Taylor said, but the group has also discussed awards and how to utilize support staff like teachers’ aides.

Despite all the prep work, Taylor and Erny know there will still be challenges as everyone settles into the new building.

“We’re going to all have to be flexible, especially in that first year as we live [in] that building,” Erny said.

Currently, the plan is to move staff into Jasper Elementary in June, however, Taylor said summer activities, such as summer school and the summer meal program, will still operate out of Tenth Street this year.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com