- New look at SHS

This is the proposed south-facing entrance at Seymour High School, including a new lobby, after renovations at the building's southeast corner.

A new look is coming at the entrance of Seymour High School.

An $800,000 new look, which will include a new concession area, new bathrooms, a new lobby and new, public-friendly, spacious offices.

The project was reviewed last Thursday night by the Seymour R-II Board of Education at the group’s regular monthly meeting. Although a few changes were suggested to the project’s architect, James E. “Jim” Rutledge of Springfield, the framework of the 4,000-square-foot, east-end upgrade was given to go ahead to move forward.

“It’s a renovation that creates quite the facelift to the look of our high school at its southeast corner,” Superintendent Steve Richards said.

“Above that, it addresses several needs. Probably the biggest need is for the bathrooms ... that’s a project the (school) board has looked at for more than a decade.”

Best of all, the project will be funded with the district’s financial reserves.

And budgeted funds.

“As a rule, you can figure about $200 a square foot for any type of a building project for a school, which makes this one come in around the $800,000 mark,” Richards explained.

“At the end of the past school year, at the end of June, there was a transfer of $400,000 to Fund 4, which is the school’s building fund.

“We also budgeted in the current (2020-21) school year for this project. Additional funding came from the 75-cent tax levy that our voters in Seymour approved in November 2019, which allowed for additional budgeting for this project at the high school.”

By completing the renovation at the high-school entrance, Richards noted that a promise made to district voters when the 75-cent levy was promoted is being fulfilled.

“That was a major talking point when the local committee was promoting the levy,” he said. “One of the priorities that was identified was the need for the renovation at the high-school entrance ... the need for new bathrooms, the need for a larger lobby and the need for an entrance that was less congested and safer for the public and students.”

Richards said the new lobby at the high school, once it’s completed, will provide more space for what he called “big events,” such as graduations, music concerts and basketball games, among others.

“Right now, it’s very congested there and not a good situation at all,” he said. “This has been a problem since I was a coach here 25 years ago.

“And in today’s world, security also is an issue. With the renovation, we’ll also have heightened security at the high-school entrance.”

Currently, when meetings are needed in the office area at the high school, space doesn’t exist to accommodate it.

That need is met in the new project.

“There will be a conference room for meetings at the high school, located in that southeast corner of the building where this project will occur, and we don’t have that at the present time,” Richards said. “This is a big need when parents come to the school and need to speak with our administration.”

At Thursday’s meeting, the seven school-board members spoke with Rutledge about the project.

Suggestions were made about cosmetic facets of the proposed design.

“Overall, the board was pleased with the design and the project itself,” Richards said.

“There were a few cosmetic changes, nothing major.”

What’s next?

“The project is going forward,” Richards said.

That means bids for the renovation will go out in either late December or early January.

Once bids are received, contractors will be selected.

“The plan is to start this project in May, with construction to start the first day after classes are dismissed for the current school year,” Richards concluded.

“The project likely won’t be completed by the start of the 2021-22 school year next August, but it would be completed soon thereafter, certainly by the end of that fall.”

He said groundbreaking is scheduled sometime near the start of the new year.

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