Jasper Elementary starts to take shapeFebruary 28, 2019
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — The gray skeleton of Jasper Elementary School is taking shape on the city’s north side along Portersville Road.
Crews broke ground on the roughly $25 million building last May, and it’s now about 20 percent complete, according to Clerk of the Works Todd Hopf with the Stenftenagel Group.
Once completed, building will span 111,000 square feet and hold 850 students in four classroom pods — one for preschool and kindergarten; one for first and second grade; one for third and fourth grade; and one for fifth grade and special needs students. Down the center will be the main offices, the media center and the gym.
The corporation 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 elementaries. That report did not include the cost of lessening the potential flooding problems at both schools, which could have cost additional millions.
Once Jasper Elementary is complete, Fifth Street and Tenth Street will come together in the new building.
School officials have started discussing the future of the two schools once students and staff move to Jasper Elementary, but no decisions have been made. The corporation owns both buildings, but does hold a deed agreement with the Catholic Diocese of Evansville for Tenth Street.
While school officials work out the logistics of combining two schools into one, construction crews are hard at work building the new school.
Around Jasper Elementary’s construction site, the sections of the future school are in various stages of completion. In the southwest corner, crews with general contractor Danco Construction of Evansville and various subcontractors work to install rough electric and duct work in what will be the first- and second-grade classrooms. That section is the farthest along and already covered by a roof.
Next door, other crews work to put a roof over the future gym, and in another area, crews lay the concrete masonry unit —CMU — block in other areas of the school. The school’s walls will all be made of CMU blocks, Hopf said, because they hold up better than plaster and other materials. The interior walls will be painted, while the exterior walls will be covered in red brick to match Jasper Middle School that sits to the south.
“It’s built as a structure that’s going to be here for many generations,” Hopf said.
With the future in mind, the school will have several security features. Every classroom will have key-fob locks, allowing the central office to lock every door with the press of a button in the event of an emergency. There will be 50 interior security cameras and 34 outdoor cameras, and the windows will be School Guard impact-resistant glass.
“You won’t be easily going up to it and breaking it with a sledgehammer,” Hopf said. “You’re going to be pounding for 12 to 20 minutes.”
It’s also bullet resistant.
Also with the future in mind, the building was designed for growth with the classroom pod structure. Hopf figures there’s room on site for 12 or more additional classrooms as Jasper grows.
The project has gone smoothly. The weather has posed some challenges, said Zach Smith, the project manager with Danco, but nothing significant.
“So far it’s been a pretty good project for Danco,” Smith said.
This spring, crews will start installing the red brick around the exterior of the building, as well as laying sod.
The project is on track for substantial completion in April 2020, with the first little Wildcats attending classes in the school that August.
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