21 Jul 2014 Summertime construction benefits Conway County schools
Story and photos
by Janna Virden
While summertime means vacation for most students and faculty, it is not a downtime for school districts.
In fact, when students and much of the faculty are absent from school campuses, the construction crews move in to build and renovate before the next term begins. In Conway County, each school district is either building or renovating.
In the Wonderview School District, a new athletic complex is under construction that will provide a baseball field, softball field, track, concessions and bathrooms for use by students and the community.
Superintendent J. Carroll Purtle said Phase One, which is the footprint of the complex, has been completed, and Phase Two, which is fencing and scoreboards, should be completed before the beginning of the school year.
“It will allow us to be able to host our own baseball and softball tournaments,” he said, adding that the district can now promote a track program as well as provide a facility for the community to use as a walking track.
The district is partnering with the Arkansas Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils Inc. and the Rural Fire Protection Program to get a grant for additional lighting and fencing for extended hour use for the facility so that members of the community can use the complex either in the summer for ball play or when not in use by the students.
“This is the perfect opportunity to add a wellness aspect through outreach to all the communities served by the school district,” said Charles Gangluff with the Arkansas RC&D.
In addition to the new athletic complex, the district is completing renovations to upgrade several computer labs. Last year, the district completed major renovations to the school campus with the addition of a cafetorium with classrooms, gutting the old cafeteria and renovating it into a fine arts complex and adding new entry points to the high school and elementary school.
Purtle said the district continues to upgrade and build to ensure students get the education they need. He hopes in the near future to add a new agri complex.
SOUTH CONWAY COUNTY DISTRICT
The South Conway County School District is looking to add a new entry, concession stands, bathrooms, additional lighting and sidewalks to Devil Dog Stadium. Superintendent Shawn Halbrook wants the stadium to be more visitor-friendly as well as more handicapped accessible.
“I want this to be a source of pride for the community.”
The new additions will complete a series of renovations to the complex that included new turf and a new track.
Another renovation being undertaken in the South Conway County School District will not be seen by many students, but is a much needed improvement. Halbrook said the old kindergarten (a.k.a. The Annex) across the street from his office has been gutted and will house the administrative offices of the district as well as a training room for teachers. Halbrook said he went to kindergarten in the building.
Halbrook, who is finishing up his first year as superintendent, said he has learned that he can’t do everything. He said he has to trust his leaders in the district. “I think South Conway County has the finest leadership group that we have ever had.”
The Nemo Vista School District is also adding a new administration building on campus this year as well as a covered batting cage at the ball fields.
Superintendent Cody Bene said that the district has completed more than 50,000 square feet of renovations to the school campus in the past three years. He said students are “loving it.” He hopes to add additional parking, an agri and home economics building and a fine arts building.
Sacred Heart Catholic School in Morrilton has also undergone several renovations in the past several years, including new elementary bathrooms, security cameras installed at all the building entrances and hallways, new playground equipment and fencing and exterior renovations as well as upgrades to classrooms.
This summer a complete renovation to the interior and exterior to the north side of the high school was undertaken. The school is trying to improve energy efficiency and update the look of the buildings.
Future plans include upgrades in technology for students and continued improvements to bathrooms as well as upgrades to the exterior of the building.