LAKE OF THE OZARKS - Construction work on School of the Osage's Heritage Building is moving along on schedule and on budget for Mills Elementary to move into the building for the 2014-15 school year as planned.
"It is a very tight schedule, but we are on schedule," said Tony Hermann, School of the Osage assistant superintendent. "We're trying to get a lot done and get it finished before the next school year."
The district received authorization for the $22 million project in April when voters approved a 12.9 percent property tax increase to fund renovation and expansion of the 1933 building.
The building's progress is currently near the end of the demolition and abatement stage, Hermann said.
"Most of our site work has begun. We have dug the foundation for the addition to the building," he continued.
Preparations have also included removing the previous front parking lot so it can be restructured. Once the front of the building and parking lot are taken care of, the next stage will be constructing the new addition on the back of the building. The addition will add another 24 classrooms to the 24 the Heritage Building currently houses.
"We are in our "open stage.' Right now we are running all of our sanitary lines, and we're working inside the walls ... We have to remove the current plumbing and electric and replace it," Hermann said. "Then we'll start to close everything up and it will start to look like a building again."
The new addition and building renovation have been designed to consider the Heritage Building's historical significance as well as modern practicality for future students, Hermann said. Architectural features such as the building's brick, gables and arched windows will be preserved and imitated in the new addition.
"We're not trying to make the main building match the addition. We are trying to blend the addition with the original building," Hermann said. "The kids will get the best of both worlds."
Work on the project began almost immediately after gaining voter approval, as the planning and designing stage took place before the election.
"We did a lot of the legwork beforehand," said Brent Depee, School of the Osage superintendent. "We were banking on the public supporting us."
The renovated building will be able to accommodate 700 to 750 students in pre-school, Head Start and kindergarten through second grade, compared to the 430-student capacity at the current Mills Elementary building on Bagnell Dam Boulevard in Lake Ozark.
Hermann said the renovated building's name will encompass the school district's history as well as the elementary school's namesake, combining them as Heritage Elementary on the Leland O. Mills Campus.
"We think it's a very special project. It's very unique," he said.