New Clinton school brings students together

By Tammy Keith Published August 31, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

Principal Hal Ward stands in the library of the new section of Clinton Elementary/Intermediate School. Kindergarten through the third grade has a two-story facility, which was completed this summer. Students previously had to leave the building to use the library. Students in kindergarten through the sixth grade share the new library.

CLINTON — The new $9 million Clinton Elementary/Intermediate School has brought separate programs under one roof and increased safety for students, Principal Hal Ward said.

“We had nine buildings for everything we did. The library was separate. Kindergarten was separate, lunch, PE,” Ward said. “We had a building that we had to cross the street to get to music and GT (gifted and talented).”

The addition is for students in kindergarten through the third grade and connects to the intermediate school, which houses grades four, five and six. They share a library and cafeteria now and only have to leave the building for PE.

“I can’t tell you how pleasant it’s been to be under one roof,” Ward said.

“It’s wonderful,” Superintendent Scott Jones said.

Jones, in his second year in the district, said the condition of the classroom building and safety were two reasons the facility was added onto the intermediate school.

School patrons approved a 4-mill property-tax increase in 2011 to fund the two-story, 63,000-square-foot facility.

“The older building was quite old. It was built in the early ’70s, and it was in great need of repair,” Jones said. “The leadership then decided it would be better to build new than try to redo the old. It was just so far gone.”

Ward said the building used for the elementary classes had rusting metal studs.

Jones and Ward cited another crucial factor in deciding to build: the safety of the students and staff. All of the classroom doors opened to the outside of the building, they said.

Another feature of the new facility is a safe room for the approximately 700 elementary and intermediate school students and staff.

“We had just finished, before I came on board, an addition to the junior high building that had a safe room in there that would house the junior high and high school,” Jones said. “That’s something very nice to have down here and to have two of them. One good thing about that, we make it available to the

community after hours.”

“We’re so happy to have our safe room,” Ward said, remembering the 2008 and 2013 tornadoes that hit the community.

The new classroom facility has been a boost to morale, he said.

“Our kids have been so excited with everything being new, and our teachers have been the same way,” Ward said.

Second- and third-graders use the classrooms upstairs.

“And that’s just one thing that excited them,” he said. The new building also has an elevator for those who can’t climb the stairs.

“We were able to buy some new furniture; that was part of the $9 million,” he said. All students in kindergarten through the third grade have new desks, he said.

The move into the new school started at the end of May, Ward said, but the building wasn’t completed until mid-July.

“We lack an intercom system, which we have ordered, and a few things like that,” Ward said.

The vacated buildings that cannot be repaired will be torn down, Jones said, per the contract with the state.

He said the district received “just a little over $100,000 of [Academic Facilities Partnership Program] money, and part of the contract was to tear some square footage down.”

The former six-room kindergarten building is being used for preschool, he said.

“We’re going to save what we can that’s usable,” Jones said.

When buildings are demolished, Jones said, the slabs will be left.

“My vision on that is to turn it into more of a park setting,” he said, which would include a walking trail and tennis and basketball courts. “We’re going to try to make something good for the community out of that.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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