MOUNDS, IL (KFVS) - A long-awaited elementary school in Mounds, Illinois will open soon.
Construction on the new addition of the Meridian Elementary and Junior High School addition is expected to close in the spring. as the 36,000 square-foot project is scheduled to be finished near the end of March to the beginning of April, students and staff will start using the new addition at the beginning of the school year in August.
In 2016, we told you about the elementary school building being condemned due to toxic mold. Well, the project for the new building was put on holt due to the budget stalemate, but after a year, it's finally starting to come together.
"Five years ago, the old elementary school was Shut down pretty abruptly," said Spencer Byrd, superintendent of the Meridian School District. "It was like one week, we found mold, next week, you have to evacuate."
Now, the temporary classrooms are full and teachers are making do while they wait.
Novella Harris, the current Elementary School Principal, has been working with Meridian School District for 40 years, most of that time as a teacher.
"I think we all had a feeling of refugees felt like, we did not have a home anymore," Harris said.
The new school building was slated to be done by last summer, However, there was one problem: money.
"The budget freeze held up our money which held up our construction …we are very happy that it's getting done, I don't like to dwell on the negative, but the positive thing is it's finally getting done although be it, a little bit later than we have anticipated," Byrd said.
And it's long overdue, Harris explained,
"We want to go home, so finally we are getting to go home."
Fortunately, the end is near.
Meridian School District's Old Elementary School is starting to go down and the new school, one is already up, along with the morale.
"It's very satisfying. Again, it's not just me, our community, our students, our parents, our teachers…there is a sense of excitement right now that wasn't here three or four years ago," Bird explained. "There morale was low. Dealing with the situation that we' are dealing with was a struggle. Now to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the physical transition is very satisfying."
Even kindergartener, Er'Rihanna Harris, described how she felt in one word, "Happy... Going into a new building."
The new features include a gymnasium, classrooms and offices for teachers and administration.
The gym, which is the final portion of the construction, is set to be finished in mid-April.