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Cole R-I makes progress on bond projects

One promise already delivered, two others in progress by Garrett Fuller | February 8, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — The Cole R-I High School gymnasium is seen Feb. 1, 2023, in Russellville. Crews with James G. Staat Tuckpointing and Waterproofing, of St. Louis, have been making masonry repairs to the gymnasium to fix leaks and cracks caused by ground movement. The work is one of many projects the district is completing under Proposition Keep Improving District Schools (K.I.D.S.), a $5-million bond measure voters passed in November 2022. Another part of the project is the construction of eight new classrooms on the west side of the high school to alleviate crowding in the district.

RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. -- The Cole R-I School District is marking projects complete from a recent bond issue.

More than 70 percent of voters approved Proposition Keep Improving District Schools (K.I.D.S.) in the Nov. 8 election, enabling the district to make much-needed upgrades to its elementary and high school campuses. Among the upgrades promised in the $5-million bond issue were the construction of a classroom addition at the high school along with equipment and furnishings, security camera upgrades at the high school, and other building improvements at both campuses. Cole R-I Superintendent Jeff Jennewein said at a Nov. 6 town hall that the bond issue will not require an increase in the district's debt service property tax levy, as it will instead pay longer on accrued debt from previous measures.

Three months after the measure passed, Jennewein said, one project has already been completed with two more in progress.

He said Specialized Mechanical Services, of Columbia, installed a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for two classrooms at Cole R-I Elementary School. The gymnasium sound system at the elementary school is also being upgraded.

Jennewein said crews from James G. Staat Tuckpointing and Waterproofing, of St. Louis, have been making masonry repairs in the high school gymnasium. He said the work, which will address leaks and cracks from ground movement, should be completed in the next few weeks.

Jennewein said the district will seek bids in March for the construction of the classroom addition at the high school. The addition will feature eight new classrooms, which will help alleviate crowding at the school. Chris Davis, a representative from PWArchitects, said at the Nov. 6 town hall meeting that the new classrooms, to be added to the west side of the school, will be similar to the rest of the building on the inside and outside.

There are lots of moving pieces and variables before construction begins on the new high school addition, Jennewein said. A timeline is not definite, but he hopes bids can be returned by April and construction can begin soon after. He said the district is working with PWArchitects and Septagon Construction to minimize interruptions to the learning environment at the high school, with the biggest challenge likely being noise levels. Jennewein said Septagon, who has offices in Columbia and Jefferson City, has been involved in the planning and pre-construction phases of the project "to help define project scope, budget and schedule, as well as provide constructability reviews." He said Septagon will also be responsible for administering the public bid process, granting contracts per Cole R-I Board of Education directives, and serving as a liason between the district and contractors/subcontractors, among other tasks during construction and the warranty period.

The bond issue also included funds for equipping and furnishing the new classrooms. Jennewein said the district has started looking at items for the new rooms, but have not settled on anything.

Other Proposition K.I.D.S. projects remaining are high school security camera upgrades, and regrading and purchasing new equipment for the elementary school playground.

  photo  Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — The current playground at Cole R-I Elementary School is seen Feb. 1, 2023, in Russellville. The district will be regrading the playground and replacing equipment as part of Proposition Keep Improving District Schools (K.I.D.S.), a $5-million bond issue voters approved in November 2022 to complete various projects around the district.

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