by Gina Zervos, Rolla Public Schools
Last year at this time, the Rolla Board of Education had placed a bond issue on the municipal election ballot designed to elevate and improve many spaces across the district. It’s safe to say that none of us could have predicted what an unprecedented year 2020 would be. But even with the COVID related delays and interruptions, progress is being made in each project in the district as planned. As a reminder, the 5 areas of focus are: safety and security upgrades at each campus, improvements and additions at Rolla Technical Institute, repurposing the existing gymnasium to create a performing arts center and construction of a new field house at Rolla High School, a new band and choral arts addition at Rolla Junior High, and construction of a new library and front entrance at Truman Elementary.
Plans have been finalized at Rolla Technical Institute and are currently out for bid on our website at rolla31.org under the “District” tab. The current proposal includes (among many other things) renovation of existing restrooms to update and make them handicap accessible, and the addition of a new block of restrooms near the building entrance. Our construction trades, masonry, and drafting and design students will be working on aspects of these improvements, which is of course exciting for everyone. Many unique challenges are still being worked through in the RTI building, which is now nearing 60 years of age. Water supply and quality, for example, have been of concern in the building for some time due to pipe deterioration and the location at the end of the water supply line, and have created minor reconfigurations of the plans. We appreciate the collaboration with Rolla Municipal Utilities and their willingness to help us resolve the external factors of this project while we focus internally. Other major factors include intricate wiring and heavy equipment, which of course will be an integral part of the planning process. Dr. Dare, our Deputy Superintendent who is overseeing the projects, is also working on grant applications to help offset the costs for automotive lifts, a greenhouse, etc., which will allow us to stretch the dollars allocated for the renovation.
Plans at the Junior High have also been revised and are out for bid. The new proposal will shift the addition to the west side of the building and slightly relocate the parent drop-off loop. Rest assured that the famous “sledding hill” at RJH will remain untouched! The newly constructed space will serve as a storm shelter for the entire population of RJH (approximately 900 people), and will include a large band room, choral arts room, practice rooms, storage, and a bank of restrooms.
Drawings are still being refined at RHS and at Truman. In both cases, conversations surrounding storage, student flow, and other logistics are taking place. Extra considerations at this stage are key and will hopefully allow us to avoid any mid-construction pivots. Safety and security upgrades and reconfigurations are being included in all design phases and will likely be addressed at the same time district-wide to allow for consistent equipment and implementation, as well as capturing the best cost for those items by buying on a large scale.
Once again, a huge thank you goes out to the community for supporting our schools. These improvements to the district will certainly serve to enhance the Bulldog Pride in our community. Be sure to visit our website, rolla31.org, for frequent updates, bid packets and deadlines, and more information on these projects. Thank you for making each day a GREAT Day to be a Bulldog!
Gina Zervos is the Director of Communications and Volunteer Services for the Rolla Public School District. With a background in Communications, Gina has been teaching at the collegiate level for over 10 years and joined the district in 2018 in an effort to broaden the scope of the public relations and communications reach. She believes the school district is the foundation on which an outstanding community is built. A Rolla native, Gina is passionate about serving the school district and the community, and has dedicated time and effort to many local organizations. Gina resides in Rolla with her husband, Adam, and their two children.