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RCS plans expansion for middle school

At an expected cost of $1.5 million, the Russellville Middle School will soon gain eight new classrooms, including new bathrooms, two special education classrooms and a science lab.

At a meeting dominated by discussion and approval of the system’s strategic plan, Superintendent Heath Grimes announced that RCS has contracted with an architect to draw up the plans for the addition to the middle school and bid out the construction, with the total project estimated at $1.5-2 million of reserve funds. The expansion is necessitated by the large fifth grade class that will rise to the middle school next year – when compared against the rising eight grade class, RMS will have a net increase of 50 students.

“We do not have a single closet we could put another teacher in,” Grimes said.

In an ideal world, the construction will be completed by the beginning of next school year, but Grimes said he and the board aware that such a quick turnaround is unlikely. RCS is working to develop a contingency plan to accommodate students in the event the new construction is not quite completed by the first day of school 2017. “This is the most realistic, feasible and immediate (need),” Grimes said.

Dr. Karen Thorn, RMS principal, said she is elated that progress is moving forward on the middle school addition. “I’m thrilled. We have been out of space since I’ve been at Russellville, really,” she said. “I have some teachers who are having to share a room because they don’t have enough space … This is much needed, and I’m very excited about it.

“Right now we’re on top of each other. There’s no room.”