The Jackson R-2 School District is finalizing plans to demolish the original Jackson High School Building, known as “Old A.” Demolition of the building was included in the Proposition J plan which includes construction projects for almost every building in the school district. 73 percent of Jackson voters voted in favor of Proposition J.
Last night, Laura Stroder, a Jackson resident, spoke to the Board of Education in hopes of convincing them to preserve the building instead.
She invited Dr. Jason Sides, an assistant professor at Southeast Missouri State University who teaches classes in grant writing, to present a list of grants the school district could qualify for to restore the old building.
Brad Noel asked the district to reconsider but said he knew there wasn’t much that could be done to save the building. Noel said he voted yes to Proposition J because he knew the other construction projects were needed to improve the district. Noel said the demolition to “Old A” was not explained on the ballot.
Jackson superintendent Dr. John Link said despite the presentations, the district intends to move forward with the plan. “Old A” has sat empty for seven years and Link says the amount of decay would be too expensive to fix and that the building cannot be renovated to meet 21st Century education needs.
Link said the board will look into the grants Sides mentioned in the future.
“We appreciate the effort the community members went through to find those grants and we may look into those avenues for restoring another old building we have on campus,” Link said.
Other projects under Proposition J include the renovation of one of the Jackson High School wings that will allow the freshman to join the high school instead of being at the Junior High. Link said the renovated wing will help with the overcrowding of classrooms until the new building is built. Renovations will also be made to North Elementary, West Lane and Jackson Middle School. The renovations and additions will add classroom space for Special Education and group learning and will update the buildings to be more efficient. Proposition J projects will cost the district about $27 million according to Aaron Harte, an architect with Incite Design who has been working with district officials and teachers to design the projects.
The school district will be taking bids for the removal of asbestos in “Old A” next week. Once the asbestos is removed the building can be demolished safely. The school district is hoping to have a new building in its place by the start of the 2018 school year.