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Nov 21

Construction of new elementary school in Jessamine County smooth sailing under clear skies

Jessamine County’s new elementary school off Union Mill Road is on pace for its completion before school starts next fall. The exterior will match East Jessamine Middle School, which sits next door. (Photo by Jonathan Kleppinger)

The younger brother of East Jessamine Middle School is rising above the horizon along Union Mill Road.

The shell of Jessamine County school district’s new elementary school, yet to be named and set to open for the start of school next year, is clearly marked as most of the walls and roof are up.

Construction has gone quickly with fair weather over the summer and fall and some warm days as Thanksgiving approaches.

“We’re still on schedule with the original schedule, maybe even just a little ahead of it,” assistant superintendent Jimmy Adams said. “When you have 60-degree days in November, it doesn’t hurt.”

The school board considered name options including East Jessamine Elementary, Union Mill Elementary and Sulphur Well Elementary in October 2011 but decided to leave the task of naming the school to the new administration and the new principal. Applicants for that position are currently being considered.

“We’re looking at having that person named by the end of December so they’re coming on board to help with a lot of decisions starting in January,” Adams said.

The focal point of the school’s design is the library, which sits in the center of the classroom hallway and faces the pastoral landscape of eastern Jessamine County.

“Every day, every student will at least walk past the library but also have access to the library on their way to the classroom, on their way to the cafeteria,” Adams said. “Anywhere you go in that building, you’re going to pass by that library, and the architectural design of it is just beautiful.”

Classroom heating and air-conditioning units are above the ceiling, accessible on a second-floor catwalk that runs the length of the classroom. Adams said that feature eliminates the chance that maintenance could disturb classroom time.

“That catwalk makes it really nice, because if a unit goes out for a particular classroom, a repair person doesn’t have to go into that classroom to work on it,” he said. “They’ll be able to work on it and never be seen or noticed by the students or the teacher.”

The new school has a $13 million price tag and has not had many “surprises” thus far in construction, Adams said. It will be the district’s sixth elementary school and will come on board along with a comprehensive redistricting for elementary schools next fall.

Construction was expedited by the decision to lay the concrete pad for the school in 2009 with leftover materials from the construction of East Jessamine Middle next door. Adams credited the quick work on the project so far to the architects from Sherman Carter Barnhart and site superintendent Steve Wilson from contractor D.W. Wilburn.

The majority of the construction should be completed about a month before school starts in August 2013, Adams said, with just a few last items to be checked off at that point.

“We’ll probably still be doing a lot of punch-list items leading up to it, but we’ll be getting furniture and all in and have it ready to go so that when teachers show up and students show up, we’re ready to have school,” Adams said.

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