Work begins on the new Riverside East Elementary facility in Caraway
Site work has begun for the new school on East Riverside East campus in Caraway.
"It is finally underway and we are all excited," Tommy Knight, Riverside superintendent said.
Students, teachers, administrators and the those passing by can view the marked off area and the dirt work as the first steps of the actual construction.
Working on the planning stage goes back several years. The new school has been part of the long-term plan. Once the junior and senior high school project was completed, the attention was turned toward making the new elementary school a reality.
The estimated cost of the project is $5.5 million with the state partnership money paying 67 percent of the cost.
The 40,000 square foot building will feature 14 regular classrooms, support classrooms for special education, music, art, computer lab, a cafetorium and administrative offices.
The entire elementary school, K-6, will be under one roof.
Knight said once the new facility is completed the old buildings will be demolished except for the newest addition which was built in 2004. The two classrooms and bathrooms will be used to house the pre-kindergarten children.
Also, the safe room and the gymnasium will be left.
Future plans include remodeling the four classrooms located in the back of the gymnasium to be utilized as needed.
Knight applied for funding two years ago and was turned down. He then applied again and was approved for the second year of available funding. He never gave up and the district is reaping the rewards.
The project is estimated to take 12 months, depending on the weather. Once completed students will finish the 2015-2016 school year in the new facility.
Architect Mark Cahoon of Cahoon Steiling Studio in Jonesboro designed the building and Tate General Contractors are in charge of the construction.
"We have worked with them in other projects and they do a good job," Knight said.
Tate Contractors built the high school.
Presently enrollment at Riverside is 805 with 175 to 180 students on the east campus, along with a staff of 21.
"The board has been very supportive of the project," Knight said. "It takes time and it has been frustrating when you have to deal with all of the red tape involved, but work is finally underway and it will be good for the district and good for the community. I am proud for the whole community. Caraway has had its share of challenges over the last year and a half and hopefully this can jump start the rebuilding process that is underway."
The old facility has served the community for 70 years. Caraway and Lake City school districts merged in 1985 to form the Riverside School District.
Another project the district is looking at is the construction of a new bus shed. Eventually, Knight hopes there will be a central office built on the high school property. Knight and his staff presently remain in the superintendent's building located on the old campus on Catfish Drive, Lake City.