Many factors lead to opportunity to expand schools

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  Editor’s Note: In last week’s issue of the Vevay Newspapers, a front page story explained the process of the Switzerland County School Board in looking at a variety of options when considering the construction of a corridor connecting Switzerland County Middle School with Switzerland County High School.

  In this article, Switzerland County School Superintendent Rod Hite gives more insight into the process.

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  As we begin to progress closer and closer to the possibility of an academic connector between the high school and middle school the excitement is starting to build.

  Our ability to undertake this project that has been discussed in the community for more than 14 years is due to the combination of several financial positives, including our receipt of significant ESSER grant dollars and our current debt service coming to a close over the next three years. The bonds issued to fund our previous elementary and middle school projects are being paid off in 2023, 2024, and 2025.

  The ESSER grant dollars are on a timeline where they must be expended by the end of 2024. These two factors coming together with low interest rates, relative to historical levels, for bonds have given us the opportunity to consider funding a project that will safely move students between buildings when necessary, build classrooms for the academic future, and possibly expand some of our career readiness options for students.

  The size of the possible project has yet to be determined. The builder, Hagerman Construction, is working with Elevar, our architect, to provide several different project options to the school board. The early initial concepts of the project have been explored with the teachers who could potentially use the connector in various ways; our principals who will oversee the academic areas; and our school endowment board, which includes a county council member, a commissioner, an appointed county council community representative, an appointed commissioner community representative, and the school superintendent.

  As Hagerman Construction and Elevar work together on this project they are taking into consideration other recent school projects, or current projects they are involved in designing and building in the tri state area. As everyone across the country is experiencing, currently the market has large fluctuations in availability and in pricing. The builder and design team’s real time expertise has allowed their initial concepts and budget proposals to the school board to take much of this into consideration on building materials and labor.

  While no one knows what the coming months will bring as we send out actual bids, Hagerman Construction is building contingencies into the project proposals for our school board to consider as we move forward.

  The school board has an exciting opportunity to bring a concept together that has been talked about for more than 14 years in our community. Their commitment to bring more than a corridor and focus on an academic solution for a growing job market and the availability of more online college courses or college partnerships, a more smooth transition for freshmen students entering high school, or even the potential of growth in our student population in future years has shown their vision for Switzerland County School Corporation is beyond just their term on the school board.

  Much of the conversation has revolved around investing in our community for years to come. Their vision combined with the support of our local elected officials has a series of timelines starting to take place. The most exciting of these timelines is the actual construction phase. We see the next couple months as an important planning phase that will lead to a bidding stage by our contractor and then the actual construction phase will begin.

  During each of these phases of planning and construction, the administration and the school board will provide all of the significant information to the community at board meetings and through other forms of communication so everyone can participate in this very exciting time for our students, staff and our entire Switzerland County community.

— Rod Hite,

Switzerland County Superintendent of Schools