South Heart Public School is finishing up the final finishing touches to their new addition, a project more than two years in the works.
Calvin Dean, superintendent of South Heart Public School, said the school received its certificate of occupancy about a week and half ago, which means they can officially occupy their last phase of construction. He said the total budget for the project ended up being around $13.2 million.
The school has gone through around three phases of construction over the last couple of years. The first phase was an addition on the north end of the building, which they were able to move into at the beginning of the school year. The second phase included a separate vocational agriculture building, which they moved into in December. The last phase of construction was on the east side of the school which was finished up earlier this month. Dean said other than some landscaping that needs to be done in the spring, the school construction project is 99 percent done.
"We've been on schedule," Dean said, noting that they were hoping to get into the vocational ag building sooner, but there were some scheduling problems that delayed that a couple of months. "We're really excited for the latest space because it's probably the most public space that we've added to the building," he said. "The latest addition is going to be a new lobby and a new concession stand, new locker rooms. We also have a fitness room that we'll be making available to the public, so all of that is part of the last phase that we just got."
The school was forced to say goodbye to a century old school last summer as a part of the construction process. The old building, which held many memories for the community, had four classrooms and the kitchen and cafeteria, Dean said.
"The first phase that we were able to use right away in the fall was elementary classrooms that replaced the ones that were torn down as well as a new kitchen and cafeteria as well so the transition worked out really, really well," he said.
Jessica Geis, elementary principal at South Heart, said the old building had lived its life and that the portable classrooms they were utilizing for a while worked well, but they are excited to have the new addition.
"It's been a great asset," Geis said. "I had teachers that taught the same grade levels but were in different parts of the building, now they're side by side and they're able to interact."
The elementary addition also includes a gym and high school students come over to the cafeteria as well, Geis said. Once everyone is moved into their new classrooms on both sides she said it will almost be entirely elementary on one side and high school on the other.
Dean said the students are adjusting very well to their new space. He said a lot of the high school classrooms in the new addition likely won't be used until the fall, but they are in the process of being prepared for next school year.
"For most of the school year this year we had to put in a temporary wall in our high school hallway, which made the hallway about half as big as it normally is," he said, adding that the wall was recently taken down, which gave them the full length of their hallway back. "We'd forgotten how wide it was. In fact, a lot of the students thought that we had made the hallway wider but we hadn't. It was just that temporary wall that we had to put in there to separate the construction zone from the school. They're adjusting really well."
Dean said they are very appreciative of everyone who helped with the addition.
"I just want to thank the students, the staff and the entire community for all of their hard work and patience and also want to congratulate the students, staff and the community on a great addition to South Heart School and the overall South Heart community."