Large open areas, dedicated rooms and lots of space are what administrators and Adams Central Board of Education members noticed most during a tour of the elementary school construction site Monday.
“This is huge,” said Wallace Elementary principal Allyson Bohlen walking into the new gymnasium. “We’ve never had a space that big in any of our buildings before.”
A $19.7 million bond issue was approved in May 2016 to replace the three existing elementary buildings — AC East, Juniata and Wallace — with one single-site, three-and-a-half-section elementary building.
That building now is under construction just to the east of the junior/senior high school across Adams Central Avenue.
During Monday’s school board meeting, board members and administrators got to walk on the new roundabout on Adams Central Avenue, down the new driveway and into the new elementary building.
Many large precast concrete wall panels already have been erected enclosing the gymnasium, library and several hallways. Several commons areas and other rooms also are coming together.
“The loose comment last week at our construction progress meeting was first part of September to have all precast stepped around,” Todd Kwiecinski said of the walls.
Kwiecinski works with W Design of Hastings, which is overseeing the project on behalf of Adams Central to ensure the work is completed to specifications with the highest standards.
“The building is scheduled to be totally enclosed with windows and roof in November,” said Superintendent Shawn Scott.
Kwiecinski was quick to add that just because all the walls will be up does not mean the building is complete. The new school is not set to open until fall 2018.
Once the building is completely enclosed with windows and roofs, all of the inside work can begin. That includes the installation of mechanics like ductwork for heating and cooling, electricity and plumbing.
“The goal is when we’ve got it enclosed with windows, they can get temporary heat going and they can do work without dealing with adverse conditions,” Kwiecinski said.
Crews are fighting hot summer conditions now. Kwiecinski said the crews have been working earlier in the morning and doing the most dangerous, heaviest jobs in the cooler hours of the day.
“To me, the big thing people are going to notice is when they walked out of here in May, there was nothing but a big pile of dirt,” Scott said. “They come by here in August, and from the road everything they see is all that is going to be here. It’s a big change in three months.”
School board member Tim O’Dey said he’s heard a lot of comments already about the project.
“It’s a good-looking building,” he said. “That’s the one thing you hear from people driving by on the highway.”
Board President Dave Johnson said one thing he always heard from people in meetings before the elementary bond issue was approved was how proud people were of their individual schools.
“While that was in some facets a challenge to overcome, I think it will be part of what brings everyone together when they can start being out here,” Johnson said. “That’s my hope. I sure hope that’s how things go.”
Bohlen and Juniata Elementary Principal Jennifer Pohlson both said what excites them most is seeing the individual dedicated spaces for the school nurse, special education teachers, the library and even gathering spaces for students.
“I was commenting to Shawn this is the commons area for this four classrooms and being able to do something really fun here,” Bohlen said. “Now I am not able to get all of the kindergartners and teachers together. With this space, I can do that.”
Pohlson, whose primary focus is on special education, said seeing those special education classrooms makes this all more real.
“I have three SPED teachers sharing one classroom right now, and they have no desks,” Pohlson said. “If they had desks, there would be no room for students, so they have sacrificed and gotten rid of all of their teacher desks.
“They dedicate all their space to kids, so I think that excites me what we can do intervention-wise and just do what we need to do for kids in an adequate space.”
Standing in the commons areas between the four new kindergarten classrooms, Bohlen became overwhelmed by everything she was seeing.
“Makes me want to cry,” she said. “It’s tears of happiness and thinking of all the kids that will attend here. It will be pretty awesome.”