Long-range planners tour GES to develop R-2 project wish list

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 5/4/22

Members of the Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education’s Long Range Planning Committee met Monday at Gerald Elementary School (GES) to discuss a future wishlist for that building that could be …

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Long-range planners tour GES to develop R-2 project wish list

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Members of the Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education’s Long Range Planning Committee met Monday at Gerald Elementary School (GES) to discuss a future wishlist for that building that could be added to a no-tax-increase-bond-issue project list.

GES Principal Jared Tharp met committee members at the east-end parking lot. Owensville Elementary School Principal Brad Royle, who will take over for Tharp on July 1, was also present to take the building tour.

“(The building) looks the same as when I went here,” Royle commented with Jason Crowe as Tharp lead the tour.

Tharp began in the teacher’s lounge.

“I think this was top-of-the-line when it was built,” Tharp said, noting the long countertops, and antique equipment on the walls, including a popcorn maker. “It dates the space.”

However, Tharp noted that the worst feature of the teacher’s lounge wasn’t so much the dated appliances and lack of a sink or running water.

GES teacher Olivia Reiker was using the lounge during the tour.

“Ms. Reiker, if you could change one thing in here, what would it be?” Tharp asked.

Reiker said a bigger restroom.

“If I could change one thing, it would be the size of the restroom,” Tharp agreed.

The tiny faculty restroom is located through a door directly off of the teacher’s lounge. It also features an open ceiling.

Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy suggested expanding the bathroom to the left another eight feet or so, filling in an alcove where vending machines are located, and moving the door.

At the cafeteria, Tharp noted that there is limited space and limited ways to direct traffic through the small cantine window.

“We make do with what we have,” Tharp said. “But if there is any way to make that window in the kitchen area bigger to allow more students to come in at once, it would be nice.”

His second complaint about the area was the lack of storage for dry goods.

“We need to restructure the kitchen area somehow,” Tharp said. “We store the least amount of food here than any other building because of lack of space.”

Hardy suggested expanding the cafeteria into the gym as the group made their way towards the connecting gym door.

“We are looking into where we could add a section to use as part of a FEMA grant,” Hardy said.

A FEMA grant could pay for a portion of the building’s expansion if it meets the qualifications to be used as a storm or safety shelter in the event of an emergency. 

Committee members questioned how many students and teachers are in the building.

Tharp said there are 17 classrooms, about 60 teachers, and nearly 300 students.

“We don’t use the gym for tournament games,” Tharp said. “We don’t need as much as that.”

However, the equipment in the gym is dated, still using cables and levers to lift and drop basketball goals, a simple scoreboard, and a gym floor that is made out of alternative materials.

“We have been fortunate to receive funding for the rock climbing walls,” Tharp said. “Cosmetically, the stage curtains need to be replaced.”

He suggested for continuity’s sake, to replace the curtains with orange or black instead of the Rebel blue. Tharp also suggested painting over the blue walls and door frames in the building, bringing the Owensville school colors into play.

In the hallways, Tharp pointed to doors that had keyfob access under their newest security system — and those that do not have key fob access.

“The new intercom system at the administration building was around $5,000,” Hardy told committee members.

GES has three entrances that need fob entrees, which Hardy and Tharp estimate could cost around $18,000 total.

Outside the back of the building, committee members observed the GES playground equipment.

“The company we purchased from has advised us that once the square columns (on the equipment) begin to go, not to repair them, just replace them,” Tharp said. “They have apparently been a safety concern.”

At least two of the playground sets and two basketball goals all sport the square support poles.

The outside space also lacks a complete enclosure.

“The entire grounds are gated except back here where parent pickup drives by in circle at the back to pick up and drop off students,” Tharp said. “We also receive deliveries back here. It’s not really a problem…until it is.”

Committee members suggested a temporary closure on the backside of the building, such as a rolling gate, to keep students safe and allow access to the grounds.

Members also suggested an awning. Due to the new bus road at the front of the building, students and teachers walk in all weather down the side of the building to the front where the buses wait. 

OES and Owensville Middle School have also asked for awnings to help keep students and teachers out of the elements.

The tour ended at the GES office, located near the back entrance of the building.

“If you could change one thing about this office, what would it be?” members asked. 

Tharp said the storage space.

Royle added that having worked at OES for so long, he could see a benefit in moving both of the building secretaries to the front so that when one is at lunch they aren’t displaced from a desk in the back to help cover the front end.

After reviewing the building’s needs, the committee determined that they will meet at 3:30 p.m. on June 6 to tour OES.

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