It’s been a year since USD 287 voters passed a 13 million bond issue to upgrade district facilities, and the district is moving very close to breaking ground on the projects.

District superintendent Jerry Turner said the board has been planning, meeting with designers and contractors and it looks like plans are in place to begin the project, possibly before the school year starts. Turner said bidding on the progress is ready to start.

“They will start here in Pomona first,” he said. “We’re going to let some bids on that pretty quick and hopefully we can get started. We have what’s called a construction manager at risk and we talk to him pretty regular. Right now the architect is putting the finishing touches on the project.”

In June, 2019, voters approved the bond issue which covers upgrades to the middle school/high school in Pomona, Williamsburg Elementary and Appanoose Elementary to provide more usable space and make the learning environment safer. The bond will address safety and security challenges at the schools, plus the lack of classroom space and extra-curricular needs, a school official said.

“Safety is the main thing,” Turner said prior to the election. “We are going to add a hallway and when weather is bad, it keeps things safer.”

Part of the safety upgrades includes building a covered walkway between the middle school and high school and new vocational room for agriculture and wood shop. This would replace the current shops located across K-68 — requiring students to cross the busy highway to reach it.

When the school year starts, students and parents may be directly affected when driving to school or dropping and picking up students.

There will be changes to parking,” he said. “Bus drop off and pick up will be the same, maybe a little more cramped once they get to the west side of the building project. Parking is going to be an issue. We’ve always been shy of parking so to speak but with this project we will be even more shy. We will have our adjustments ready and of course you never know how it’s going to work until you get it going.”

During the summer Turner said district workers have been preparing for the construction. He said knowing months in advance about the construction, they have been able to prepare by moving classrooms and arranging utilities.

We’ve readjusted our wood shop which will now be, for one year, housed with the current vo-ag building,” he said. “We’ve rearranged some special ed classes, some of the robotics stuff has been rearranged. The weight room has been moved. We’re trying to get electricity hooked up once we get those buildings destructed. so we’ll be ready to go in August. We feel pretty confident about where we’re at on our part at this point. We’re just waiting for them to come in and start tearing stuff down.”

High school and middle school sports teams will also feel the pain of construction. Turner said there will not be a high school or middle school football game played at home this year.

“Football practice for junior high and high school teams will move that to the Appanoose campus after school,” he said. “We will play some JV basketball games at the Williamsburg campus and the Appanoose campus because we will only have one gym here at the Pomona campus.”

Turner said it’s an exciting time for the district and he is anticipating getting the project started.

“I’m probably too anxious you know, he said. “I was ready to start months ago. I’m anxious and I think the community is too but everything takes time.

It’ll be a year of adjustments for us but when it’s all said and done, we will have some nice facilities.”