Delays push back South Gibson County Elementary opening
By Logan Watson
Plans to open South Gibson County Elementary, Medina’s newest school, have been pushed back to the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, according to Gibson County Special School District Director of Schools Eddie Pruett.
The $17.9M facility, which began construction in September, was originally slated to open this fall, but red tape and inclement weather kept the building crew from reaching the already ambitious completion date.
“The Construction Manager has informed us that the school is between thirty-five and forty percent complete,” said Director Pruett. “The rain slowed the progress a little, but we also had to wait for the State Fire Marshal’s Office to approve the plans before we could begin. We are currently expecting the school to be finished around December.”
Director Pruett told the Mirror-Exchange that a mid-year move had been discussed, but he and the GCSSD Board ultimately decided to wait until the beginning of the next school year.
“We thought about moving in after the holiday break in January,” said Pruett, “but it wasn’t in the best interest of the students. Trying to get all of those young students readjusted to a new school would have been hard on everyone, so we’re just going to wait until everything is good to go and working before we begin that process.”
The new facility is approximately twice the size of Medina Elementary in terms of square footage and will include close to 60 classrooms. According to plans submitted to the state by Kaatz, Brinkley, Jones & Morris Architects, Inc., the students will be divided into two wings with three hallways each. The north wing will house the second, third and fourth grade classes, while the south wing will house the Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade classes. In total, South Gibson Elementary will be able to accommodate around 1,200 students.
“We currently have close to 600 students right now,” said Medina Elementary School Principal Billy Carey. “Of course, we don’t know how many new students we will have when the school opens, but we will add around 400 students from the third and fourth grades.” According to Principal Carey, the transition from MES to SGC Elementary will be incremental, with only the third grade class being moved. When SGC Elementary opens, rising second graders will move to the new facility with the other MES students to begin third grade. Rising third graders at Medina Middle (students going into fourth grade at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year) will stay at MMS.
“It just didn’t make sense for those students to be moved from the middle school for one year only to go back when they started fifth grade,” said Carey.
“We’re very excited about the move. We’re using portable classrooms right now, so we’re happy to be able to get our students and teachers out of those,” Carey said, noting the safety concerns of having his young students walking between buildings during the school day. “It will be nice to have everyone in the same secure building. “It’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility. We will have a larger cafeteria with a built-in safe room. The music room, the library… everything will be upgraded. I’ve already had teachers asking which classroom will be theirs before the roof has been put on. We’re really looking forward to it.”