New St. Joseph Schools Nearly Ready for First Day

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 07/07 2014 10:55PM

Updated 07/08 2014 11:01AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In six weeks, the St. Joseph School District enters a new era with the opening of two new elementary schools.

They will be the first new public schools in the city in more than 40 years.

Though they aren't opening their doors yet, crews are almost ready to put on the finishing touches.

"The last 30 days are hectic," said St. Joseph School District Director of Operations Chris Silcott. "We're doing all the trimwork, all the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and carpentry, whatever the case might be."

Oak Grove in north St. Joseph and Carden Park in the south part of the city are getting close to opening.

With two different architects, each school has a distinct look.

"I like the difference in design," Silcott said. "One building, Carden Park is wide open. I call it a little modern. The other school, Oak Grove, has a kind of a country charm."

At both schools, the term "state-of-the-art" is used often to describe the details.

"You know you need to build a building for the long haul and it's something that's a little more in-depth on some of the new technology," said Marty Scroggins, Job Superintendent at Carden Park.

"This school has been updated to the technology that we have today in this type of business," he said. "It used to be a school was an easy project to build. Now with computers and everything that operates the HVAC system, it gets more in-depth."

Though there is still a lot of work to do, getting to this point in the construction process hasn't been easy. Contractors say winter was one of the worst seasons ever for construction.

"Early spring it looked like it wasn't going to happen," Silcott said, referring to completing the projects on time for the opening of school August 18. "They just went to the full effort to get it done and things are looking good."

"This one has had a deadline all along," Scroggins said. "We knew all along what we were getting into. It'll be a relief to get this one done and done on time."

For those closest to the project, they are ready to hear that first school bell ring.

"I'm going to feel like I'm starting school like you did when you were a kid," Silcott said. "You started with all that excitement. That's the way I'm going to feel."

In the coming days, district administrators will announce a series of events and open houses to allow the community to come in and see the schools after their completion.

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