Berryville board eyes new pre-K building

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Berryville School Board received what superintendent Owen Powell called “exciting news” during its meeting on Dec. 13.

“We’ve recently been approved by the Department of Education Facilities Division to have up to $1 million of our [American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief] funding approved to build a pre-kindergarten building,” Powell said. “Currently, we have two preschool classes and they are housed in portable buildings and they have been for the last 20 years.”

Powell said when the district passed its most recent millage increase in 2017, one of the things promised was that the district would be able to move students out of portable buildings.

Owen Powell

“This is a perfect opportunity for us to do that,” Powell said, adding that the total project would likely cost $1.1 million to $1.2 million.

After a motion by board member Linda Winkle, the board voted unanimously to move forward with the project.

Powell said there’s no timetable yet for the project, since it’s so early in the process.

“This is the very beginning stages,” Powell said. “We’ll start working with architects and get renditions going and start looking at that. But we’re a year and a half out from actually probably being in the building. I’d say we’re at least nine months out from any kind of actual construction going on.”

Powell said the new Pre-K building would be a much-needed and welcome asset to the district.

“What we’re looking at is approximately a 5,000-square-foot building with six classrooms in it,” Powell said. “We’d like to get up to six preschool classes. Currently we have two and we’ve been approved to add another one next year, so that will give us three.

“I think we could fill four or five tomorrow.”

In other business, the board voted to accept a bid from Whitson Construction to install a fence covering at the school’s baseball field.

“We’ve had some issues with it,” Powell said. “We tried to put a covering on it before and it blew it over. For whatever reason, it seems like there’s a lot of wind, so we’re going to have to go in and do some reinforcement and cover the outfield fence.”

In addition to the aesthetic appeal, Powell said the cover would also solve a safety issue at the field.

“Our solar panels were built out there and it creates a visual problem tracking the ball from the mound,” Powell said. “It’s actually a safety issue that we need to take care of.”

The board also accepted a bid from Plumlee Construction for repairs to the roof of the Old Rock Gym.

“The Old Rock Gym that we have, it has numerous leaks in the roof,” Powell said. “We need to reroof that.”

Powell said the roofing project will cost the district $37,643 and the fence project will cost $27,000.

The board also approved its facilities master plan, which includes the Old Rock Gym roofing project and the new preschool building.

Powell said the ESSER funding the district has received over the past two years has been a real windfall for the district.

“It’s been very helpful,” Powell said. “It really has. We’ve been able to continue to do stuff to improve our district with that funding.”

After a closed session, the board also approved a number of personnel matters, including accepting the resignations of Wendy Rodriguez and Linda Johnson from the cafeteria staff and Deana Murray as an elementary music teacher.

The board approved the hiring of Cristel Cowan as a bus route driver and Kelley Deatherage as a cafeteria substitute.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, at the district administration building.

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