Rain slowing work on new Earle school

Rain slowing work on new Earle school

Superintendent: ‘This is kind of a gloomy period.

We’re hoping for sunshine.’

news@theeveningtimes.com

Construction of the new elementary school in Earle is about three weeks behind schedule due to the wet weather, but still on track to be finished by the first week of August.

Earle School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Wilde told the City Council at its February meeting that the project is progressing nicely.

“The building is coming along,” Wilde said. “We have a roof on and they are working on the inside. We still anticipate taking occupancy by August 1.”

Work began in June on a new $7 million, 40,000 square foot elementary school. The new building will replace the old one, which was built in the 1950s, and will have 18 classrooms, computer lab, media lab, art and music rooms, and office space for school staff.

Plans call for demolition of the existing school and several outbuildings. The district will keep the gymnasium and the cafeteria.

The project is being funded by a 10 mil increase which voters approved last year.

On a related matter, Wilde said the opening of the new building will change the district’s insurance rates.

“It’s a new property, and an expensive property,” Wilde said.

Wilde said over the last month they have been reviewing the properties they have insured and will be able to save money by no longer insuring some of their older buildings at replacement value.

“Right now, we are insured at replacement value,” Wilde said. “So as you look at our 1926 building where the preschool has been, we have that insured for $600,000.

Well, if something were to happen to that building, we would not replace it.

So we are in discussions about let’s lower that to $200,000. So while we are EARLE SCHOOL

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keeping insurance on it, we are not paying replacement cost. So that is kind of our strategy on that.”

Wilde also said that they have budgeted about $300,000 for technology for the new elementary school building.

“That’s going to put about $20,000 into each one of those 18 classrooms just in technology,” Wilde said.

In other school related business, Wilde reported that they are looking at the possibility of turning over administration of the pre-school program to the Preschool Co-Op.

The school district has 25 slots, but Wilde said since funding is based on the number of students, it is better to transfer those slots over to the Co-Op.

“If we have 25 slots but don’t have 25 students, then in essence, we lose that money,” Wilde said.

“By participating with the Co Op, instead of losing those slots, we can move them to another program.

So that way as a region, we would benefit by more students wanting to access the program than we do slots. Then they can loan us for a year additional slots.

So it is a way of ebbing and flowing and keeping the program costs effective. It also removes the administration costs from the district over to the co-op.”

Wilde also reported that there has been an increase in fights at the 7th and 8th grades, which he attributes to the gloominess of the season.

“We don’t know if it’s because of the rain and the feeling that goes with it, or if it is just some other stuff going on,” Wilde said. “This is kind of a gloomy period. We’re hoping for

sunshine. If you get sunny days the kids are relaxed, the teachers are relaxed. So we are aware of it. We’re

encouraging them not to solve their problems with

aggression.”

Lastly, Wilde told the City Council that the state Department of Education has asked him to conduct an anonymous survey of all of the council to get their feedback about their experience with the school district since the state took over.

“It’s not about do you like Dr. Wilde or not,” Wilde said. “It is about whether this has been helpful to the community or not helpful.

The commission would very much like to have your thoughts and opinions on it.”

By Mark Randall

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