Construction has started on Vermillion’s new elementary school and is on track to be finished in 2024. You can visit your url to take a look at the equipment present during the process. The new elementary school is replacing Jolly and Austin elementary schools to accommodate growing class sizes.
Damon Alvey is the superintendent of the Vermillion School District. He said the new elementary school will consolidate the two current elementary schools in Vermillion, a necessary move with both buildings being crowded and outdated.
“We’re going to close Austin and Jolley… We’re really pretty crowded (and) we’ve grown. Our district has grown by about 190 students in the last six years. And so 67-year-old buildings require a lot of maintenance as you can imagine…,” Alvey said. “The [school] board determined it would be better, since we already have buildings that are tight and squeezing our students, that we should just build a new elementary school so we will take all the students from Austin and Jolley and put them into this new building.”
The 117,000 square foot building will be attached to the current middle school. Austin Elementary School teaches preschool through first grade and Jolley teaches second to fifth grade students. The consolidated schools as well as the new location will hopefully ease the transportation stress for parents, Alvey said.
“If you have a first grader you have to go across town currently. And when that student becomes a second, third, fifth grader, you [have to] drive to the other side of town,” Alvey said. “What it might actually improve is if you happen to have students in both schools. Now, you’ll only have one drop off and pickup and if you happen to have a middle schooler with it, you’ll actually have one drop off point for elementary and the middle schoolers.”
Alvey said the school district had unusually large growth last year and this year, 50 and 87 students, respectively. The new school will be designed to teach more students than currently necessary to account for growth in the future.
“Right now there’s about 407 at Jolly and about 230 in Austin, and there’s also preschool. So with Austin’s preschool, we’re at about 280 kids in that building. So we’re talking over 700 students between the two buildings will now be moved into one,” Alvey said.
On top of having more room, the school district is bringing back art for the elementary schools, providing a space for the preschool program Headstart and the ability to partner with other community members including USD, Alvey said.
“We brought art back to the elementary schools about 10 years ago or 15 years ago, the district lost its elementary art program and so we were doing art, virtually doing some other things. We’ve put out a brand new art room in this building and hired a new art teacher to run the room,” Alvey said.
Alvey hopes the new school will have a positive impact on the community as a whole, adding this project would not have been possible without the community’s support.
“Whether it’s a business owner, or our partners in education, and really just the families who send their kids to us so this school will be state of the art and it will be a community based school where kids and families get to use these facilities,” Alvey said. “And I think it’ll just be a great enhancement for the kids and for our entire school district.”