Poplar Bluff officials discuss a new school addition

Sunday, August 24, 2008

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A new addition could replace aging classrooms at Eugene Field Elementary School before the next school year.

This could be the next phase of a proposed long range plan administrators called "aggressive" during discussion at Thursday night's monthly board meeting.

The plan also includes a new preschool/kindergarten facility and renovation of Poplar Bluff Junior High. Though the plan has a combined cost of $15 million, residents would not see a change in their tax bills.

School board members have not voted on the items.

"When we were developing the long-range plan, we didn't have Eugene Field in there because we weren't sure what we were going to do with that," superintendent Ernie Lawson told board members. "We're asking the board to consider putting an addition at Eugene Field to replace the old building."

The Eugene Field project's estimated $1 million cost would be paid for from district funds and with $650,000 left on a capital lease also used to pay for last summer's building projects.

An 18-classroom addition would be built at the Nickey Street campus, attaching to the library currently there, under the proposal. Once the new addition was completed, all but four classrooms in the campus's oldest building would be torn down and trailers currently used to hold three classes would be removed.

New construction would give the elementary building a U shape, Lawson said.

"Right now, there are 419 students there," he said. "We've discussed closing or downsizing the school, but we would have to add an addition somewhere. It doesn't make sense to bus these kids ... across town."

The Eugene Field campus currently has drainage problems and areas where water can get into buildings, board members said.

"The old building is in awful condition," said board member Roger Strickland.

The proposed addition would be built at a higher elevation and work would be done to improve the drainage situation causing problems for the classroom kept from the old building, said associate superintendent Clint Johnston.

Board president Hardy Billington said renovations to Eugene Field have been a concern of his for several years. "In the past, closing Eugene Field has been mentioned, but I think we need to keep our neighborhood schools open," Billington said.

In closed session, the board approved the purchase of a home that sits adjacent to the Eugene Field campus. This will square off the property, Lawson said, and was needed if the district moves forward with the new addition to the campus.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: