School officials find new use for old building

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

There are a few cracks left to fill and holes to patch, but the Alternative Education Center's move to the former L.J. Schultz School in Cape Girardeau still feels like going from stepchild to Cinderella for students and teachers.

The AEC's lease at 1000 S. Ranney St. expired this year and after a few months of renovations, the school relocated to the former seventh-grade center at 101 S. Pacific St. last week.

"There are some aesthetic things, but it's so much better than where we were," said Kathy Brennan, administrative assistant at the AEC. "We have a sense of ownership here."

The center, which has around 80 students during the regular school year, will take up six classrooms on the main floor of the 90-year-old brick building as well as the gymnasium, cafeteria and a conference room.

One classroom on the main floor has been renovated into an office for Brennan and director Mike Dorris. Most of the work was done by the Cape Girardeau School District maintenance department.

Previously the school was located in the former May Greene Elementary school building on Ranney Avenue. With a growing student population, that facility was no longer adequate.

District officials say they hope the top two floors of the building will eventually be rented out to businesses or organizations.

"We continue to look at that building as a community resource," said superintendent Mark Bowles.

Bowles said the district is not ready to begin renting the space yet. First, the second and third floors of the building have to be renovated. Bowles said he'll have more information on that process at the school board's June meeting.

The Cape Girardeau Police Department currently operates a satellite office in the library on the second floor of Schultz.

The building was constructed in 1914 and expanded in 1920 and 1941. It was renovated in 1965. In 2002, Schultz was put on the market after the opening of Central High School and a districtwide grade reconfiguration.

After a two-year legal battle with a Jefferson City developer, district officials decided to turn the property into the Alternative Education Center using money from a lawsuit settlement.

cmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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