Empty school buses had driven up to the new Julia Randall Elementary School and away during spring break, in a dry run before the big day.
Not one, but three letters were sent home to parents, alerting them of where to drop their children off on their first day back from spring break and their first day at the brand new, $15 million school. Every teacher was assigned to a particular spot on campus Monday morning, ready to direct parents and students in a seamless transition.
“We probably over-communicated, which I think really helped us,” said Julia Randall Principal Rob Varner.
“I didn’t receive one phone call from a parent angry or confused or anything like that,” he added.
The new Julia Randall Elementary School officially opened its doors Monday. Ground broke in April 2008, and the remaining work, which includes some painting and a new playground, will finish this summer.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Varner said.
On Monday morning, shortly after students filed into their new school, Varner hopped in a bulldozer and took the first bite out of the old Julia Randall as the demolition officially began.
After the buildings are razed, a playground, two basketball courts and a parking lot will rise by the beginning of July, said Mike Marr, a senior project manager at W.E. O’Neil.
“The inside of the building is 99.9 percent complete,” Marr said. Some exterior painting remains, along with some sporadic touch-ups.
“There are still some minor things,” Varner said. “But nothing that kept us from starting school (in the building) today.”
He added that W.E. O’Neil, “burnt the midnight oil last night, just making sure that everything would be ready to go today.”
Marr said he and several others worked until 8 p.m. last night on finishing touches.
According to Marr, W.E. O’Neil finished the project $153,000 under the contract amount.
The Rock Building, the 1930s Depression-era project which was Rim Country’s first school and which was, until recently, Julia Randall’s gymnasium, will become the district’s new administrative offices. Three or fourth months’ worth of renovations will begin this week.