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$4M construction project for Prairie Grove School District 46 approved

Plan includes no extra costs for taxpayers

Prairie Grove School District 46 Board President Joseph Ricciardi (left) and Superintendent John Bute listen to discussion Thursday about a $4 million construction project for the elementary and junior high schools.
Prairie Grove School District 46 Board President Joseph Ricciardi (left) and Superintendent John Bute listen to discussion Thursday about a $4 million construction project for the elementary and junior high schools.

An estimated $4 million summer construction plan that will provide elementary school air conditioning and a number of student-oriented resources to Prairie Grove School District 46 was unanimously approved by the district board Thursday.

The plan consists of projects aimed to address school shortcomings that were identified in a health and life safety study performed late last year as well as additional amenities to improve student success.

Board President Joseph Ricciardi said planning expenses totaled about $250,000.

Upgrades include a centralized library on the elementary school side of the district building; family and consumer science spaces; new science, technology, engineering and math spaces; a secured main entry on the elementary school side; and air conditioning to elementary school classrooms and the library.

Ricciardi said the $4 million will come from district reserves and will not require a bond issuance or any additional taxpayer burden.

“This is money that has been accumulating in surplus at the school for many years,” Ricciardi said. “It’s been almost 20 years since any type of school improvement project has been undertaken. As a matter of fact, other than routine maintenance, almost no money has been put back into the school.”

Ricciardi added that the district has been struggling with a lack of air conditioning at the elementary school for years. When classrooms temperatures get too high, Ricciardi said students have to be relocated to the junior high gymnasium, which may keep students more comfortable but is not conducive to learning.

Superintendent John Bute said summer school would proceed, as construction gets underway.

Although the 2019-20 academic calendar has not been approved yet, Bute said he expects classes to begin the third week of August, barring any unforeseen catastrophe.

Before any construction or demolition, Bute said staff will move and store any necessary items or equipment.

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