February 12, 2018

The St. James R-I School Board is working with Dake Wells Architecture to develop ideas that will shape the future of our schools. In preparation for the April election, the District and Dake Wells has organized several community engagement meetings to gather input and share ideas. They have presented to teachers and staff, as well as several members of the community. We have had excellent turnout and the input has been excellent! Thank you to all who participated!

The most notable idea that has surfaced from these meetings is the community’s attachment to the old high school building. When Dake Wells surveyed the community, over 80% of people surveyed wanted the old high school building to be completely renovated. As many of you know this building accounts for most of our ongoing maintenance problems at the high school. The building has moisture problems on the exterior walls, the HVAC system is not adequate to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity, the plumbing is unreliable, and the building has a multitude of challenges for our handicapped students. In fact, this building is only 50% utilized because of the current problems. Dake Wells is working on a solution that would solve all of these problems by completely renovating this old building and turning it into a 21st Century learning environment. We are so excited about the prospect of solving all of these ongoing maintenance problems and creating an inviting entry to our high school campus along Highway 68.

Another notable idea that has surfaced from these discussions is the traffic congestion problem at the elementary school. When they surveyed community members, 89% of people surveyed agreed there is a congestion problem that needs to be addressed. Dake Wells Architecture is working on solutions to help solve this problem and using this information to inform where they locate the new early childhood facility.

Our top three priorities continue to be a performing arts auditorium, early childhood facility, and upgrading the oldest portion of the high school. In the coming month Dake Wells Architecture will continue to get input from staff and community members. We are very excited about the possibilities of this bond initiative. School improvement is an ongoing process and something school districts should never stop doing. The three selected projects placed on the April 3 ballot are all student centered improvements. St. James R-I students deserve the same opportunities that are being offered at many of our neighboring districts. If you have a particular topic you would like addressed, or if you have any ideas or questions concerning the bond initiative, please contact me by email at mj@stjschools.org or by writing me at 122 E. Scioto St.