R-1 building upgrades planned for summer

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 1/20/21

HERMANN — Band-Aids for skinned knees and elbows should be in less demand at Hermann Elementary School as students begin enjoying recess activities on something much softer than asphalt.

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R-1 building upgrades planned for summer

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HERMANN — Band-Aids for skinned knees and elbows should be in less demand at Hermann Elementary School as students begin enjoying recess activities on something much softer than asphalt.

The new — new, at least, to the kids at HES — artificial turf from Bearcat Memorial Stadium has been installed at the school as a new covering goes down on the football field. The new surface on the field replaces one that has lasted well beyond its projected lifetime.

HES Principal Kendra Brune last week told the Gasconade County R-1 School District Board of Directors that students have enjoyed watching workers install their new playground surface almost as much as they’ll enjoy playing on it.

Replacing the football field turf is one of several buildings-and-grounds projects that will is taking place or will be taking place during this semester and during the summer under the eye of outgoing Superintendent Scott Smith. After three years at the helm of R-1, Smith on July 1 becomes the new superintendent of Jackson School District, one of the fastest growing districts in the state.

While Smith is the latest chief administrator at R-1 to grapple with a declining enrollment in his three years here, he is going to a district that has seen its enrollment swell in  recent years to more than 5,000 — eclipsing enrollment at neighboring Cape Girardeau Central. “It’s growing by about 150 a year,” Smith told the Gasconade County Republican after last week’s regular board meeting.

Smith came to R-1 from his post as assistant superintendent at West Plains in Howell County in southern Missouri, succeeding Tracy Hankins after her three-year tenure as superintendent.

Aside from routine maintenance work that will be done on campus this summer, other substantial work will involve remodeling Hermann Middle School to have a more-secure entrance. R-1 directors last Thursday night authorized administrators to obtain detailed drawings from local architect Nick Godat for the project, which will be the first of such work at the district’s three classroom buildings. Similar projects will come later at Hermann High School and HES.

These and other projects are being financed with about $2 million that has been amassed in R-1’s building fund and is being developed as part of the district’s new Strategic Plan that was spearheaded by Smith. After the drawings are available, the project will be going out for bids.

HES will be the site of this year’s Summer School activities. It will be a quick turnaround this year for students taking part in Summer School with the 17-day program beginning May 26. The first week will be short — Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. After Monday off for Memorial Day, students resume Summer School for another four days and then wrap it up with two full weeks, ending the program on June 18.

Summer School hours will be from 7:45 a.m to 3:30 p.m.

In other matters, the board granted an extension of the emergency leave for faculty and staff through February — perhaps longer — as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Smith told the policymakers that, so far, the effects of the virus are being managed fairly well. “Right now with COVIC, everything’s going pretty good,” he said.

Nominations are being taken through March 1 for this fall’s inductees into the Bearcat Memorial. Eligible for inclusion in the memorial are residents who made a significant impact on the district through their support during their lifetime. The selection panel will consider nominees who have been dead for at least 10 years.

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