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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Building to begin on Kelly additions

Friday, March 10, 2006

(Photo)
Kelly students break ground at a ceremony at Kelly Schools Thursday.
BENTON -- Heavy rain Thursday wasn't about to dampen spirits at Kelly School District.

In fact, the rain stopped just long enough for students, staff, board of education and members of the public to gather at a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a 16-classroom building and a multipurpose gymnasium/cafeteria.

"Today means a very bright future for Kelly students," said Kelly Board of Education President Jim Simmons.

After six failed attempts in eight years, Kelly voters approved a bond issue -- the seventh attempt -- during last April's election.

Since the issue was approved, the school board has been working, most recently with the district's architect John Dudley of Jackson, to make sure students will receive the most from the additions.

"Things were coming slowly, but we involved the teachers and were very careful to go over each aspect of the classrooms," Simmons said. "We wanted to make sure it was right, and I think it's very state of the art."

Band members played the school's alma mater and the Student Council president spoke during Thursday's ceremony. Thirteen students in grades kindergarten through 12 were also on hand to turn shovels followed by dirt shoveling from Kelly Superintendent Don Moore and the district's board of education: Simmons; Sonny Scheffer, vice president; Mitch Sander, secretary; Mike Riley, treasurer; Becky Wade, member; Janet Kline, member; and Tony Powell, member.

"We are really excited we're able to do the entire project," Moore said. "Initially, we anticipated the multipurpose would be out of the cost range.

When the school board solicited construction bids a while ago, they initially divided the project into three sections, Moore said. The first included the base building of 16 classrooms; the second added a corridor between the new building and the existing building; and the third included the multipurpose gym/cafeteria in addition to the base building and the corridor. "The contractors bid on all three packages. We got some really good bids and were able to do the entire project. We're excited about the prospect of doing the entire project," said Moore, adding the cost of the project is $3.7 million.

Kelly High School students and sisters, sophomore Lela Deason, and junior Katie Deason, said the additional classrooms, which include a library and science rooms, are definitely needed.

"We have 30 or 35 students to a class and we can barely walk through the hallways," said Katie, who was on hand for the ceremony.

And although Katie won't be able to utilize the new buildings, she's happy for other students.

"Even the curriculum will be better," Katie said. "There's going to be three science labs and I love science. I want to be a teacher so I hope I'll be able to come back here and teach when I graduate."

Lela said she is also excited and looks forward to the additions.

The multipurpose area will create separate lunch areas for high school/

middle school students and elementary students, Moore said. Currently all students share the elementary cafeteria.

"We're thinking that's going to make the educational environment better for the elementary. It's going to great all around," Moore said.

In addition to serving as a cafeteria, the multipurpose area will be used for physical education for middle and high school students, Moore said. Currently, the district also uses the gym in the Benton Community Building for team practices.

The 35,000 square-foot classroom building will connect to the south side of the existing high school gym and extend behind the superintendent's office building and out toward the track. The multipurpose gymnasium/cafeteria area will connect to the west side of the existing high school gymnasium.

Last month the district awarded the construction bid to Brown Construction of Dexter. Simmons said construction could be under way by the end of the month.

"We're very careful to keep the community informed," Simmons said. "We want them to know what we're building is what we said we were going to build."