Construction Delays First Day of School in Advance

Construction Delays First Day of School in Advance
By: Lauren Keith

ADVANCE, Mo. - There's a delay at Advance, sounds like an oxymoron, but it's reality at the school. 
Construction isn't finished on major renovations yet at the Advance Elementary, so classes won't start district-wide until mid-September.  Superintendent Mike Redman wishes schools could have opened August 29th, which he had already pushed back, but those renovations just won't be finished by then.  Again, the first day of school in Advance will now be September 12th.
Travel to Advance all you hear is people talking about the very different school calendar this year.
"My granddaughter is in first grade.  She's upset that school isn't starting.  She loves school! However, my grandson is a senior, and he's thrilled not to go back for awhile!" said Bonnie Rhodes of Advance.
Prekindergarten teacher Melody Trout can't get into her classroom just yet to start moving in supplies, but she believes it's worth the wait.
"I have mixed feelings.  It's great that we're remodeling.  It's hot outside, so maybe that will help out with power bills we won't pay as much, but it is going to make our calendar year longer and different.  In the long run, the remodeling is going to be great!" said Trout.
Speaking of that construction, Superintendent Mike Redman says things are progressing.
"We tried to squeeze a project that normally takes eight to 10 months into three, four summer months.  It's just too much.  Everything has to run perfectly to attain that goal.  We're close, very close, but when we open there will still be some tweaking here and there, but I think students and staff will be excited to see the changes," said Redman.
Construction crews work overtime, finishing sheet rock for the new multipurpose room and faculty offices.  Plus, there are new appliances in the lunchroom, even a new public bathroom.
Perhaps the most notable part of this overhaul, the hallways!  Before this, the elementary wasn't fully enclosed.  Teachers and staff had to shuffle outdoors in the elements, but now, enclosed hallways mean Advance schools have more safety and better security.  In fact, one hallway is so wide, Redman says during storms, the entire student body and elementary staff can fit inside it.
"My biggest concern was always safety.  Our old building did not have hallways, so not only did we have some classrooms where anyone could just walk up to from the outside, we also had students and teachers needing a better place to go during storm drills," said Redman.
While the construction work continues, most students are enjoying a longer summer break.
"More time to have fun and swim," said soon-to-be fifth grader Kendra Sakalowski.
And look forward to traveling the hallways and see what's new at school.
"Everything's gonna be better," said soon-to-be third grader Brandon Sakalowski.
In the meantime, Supt. Redman asks the community to be patient, thanks them for their support and says he looks forward to starting the new school year very soon.