Cold, early-morning temperatures didn’t affect the enthusiasm of the students and staff of Neosho Rapids Elementary School Thursday morning during a groundbreaking ceremony.
Board members, community members and contractors also got in on the fun with shovels in hand, scooping the dirt, as the first of three groundbreakings took place for Southern Lyon County USD 252.
Board President Kevin Flott said the projects would be great for the district.
“This multipurpose room will be one of the major additions to the Neosho Rapids building,” Flott said. “With the multipurpose room, we’ll have additional room for P.E. inside — for recess and other activities. The current multipurpose room is shared with a cafeteria, so as we continue to grow, we need the extra space.”
A groundbreaking in Hartford took place immediately after and another is planned for Olpe this spring.
“In Hartford, we’ll be doing a new kitchen addition as well as a new weight room,” Flott said. “We’ll also be doing some upgrades, both electrical and mechanical. The project for Olpe is an additional kitchen and classroom space, as well as repurposing some existing space with the early childhood program, as well as other classroom needs.”
The $14 million project was approved by voters last Spring during a special election.
“The improvements were all budgeted for,” Flott said. “Timing was everything. We were finishing up our old bonds, so we didn’t overload the district with additional debt. Our goal was to be neutral as far as the debt and what our current debt service was.”
Flott said the feedback from the communities involved in the projects has been positive.
“It’s been good,” Flott said. “I’m sure there are some negatives or questions of why this is needed, but the overwhelming majority has been very positive — when people see the growth and see the reinvestments in the students and the communities.”
Alloy Architects and Nabholz Construction are the two contractors involved in the projects. Flott said during the hiring process, Nabholz was an easy choice.
“When we were hiring contractors, one of Nabholz’s selling points was they like to involve the students to let them know what’s involved in the construction,” Flott said. “Obviously, they’re looking for kids 20 years from now to take their places. It’s cute to have them be a part of it, but it’s also very appropriate to have them be here so they understand. They get to say, ‘Hey, I was a part of this. I stood on the dirt pile, and now I’m playing in the gym and the area that was developed.’ As kids develop, they mimic or play and this was a good way to include them since it will benefit them.”
Flott said the improvements would be great for the upkeep of the buildings and for the district as a whole.
“Overall, there will be more efficiencies with these projects,” he said. “We will be able to maintain our buildings and keep them in better shape. The costs of construction are not cheap, but this will help us maintain the facilities we have. We don’t want our buildings to deteriorate, so this really helps with the continued upgrades. Hopefully, families will see that we have a lot to offer. With this progress, we will hopefully be a good selection for families and they’ll want to come to our district.”