Dawson-Bryant Elementary new building ready for classes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

COAL GROVE — When the elementary students at Dawson-Bryant head to school Friday, their first day of jitters will be mixed with the excitement of being in a brand new building.

“It’s state of the art,” said Dawson-Bryant Elementary Principal Eric Holmes. “We are so proud of it.”

And the staff is ready to show it off. So the elementary school will have an open house tonight from 4-7 p.m.

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The final touches on the building will be completed by the end of the year. Some things, like the cafeteria aren’t finished yet, so food will be shipped from the high school for the first two weeks.

The $14 million dollar school was approved to be built by the state four years ago, but an increase in construction costs and materials strained the budget.

“The cost of everything nearly doubled,” Holmes said. “So we had to go back and ask for more money.”

The school has bigger classrooms with nearly 900 feet of space and a gymnasium the size of the high schools.

Dawson-Bryant Superintendent Jim Payne said the second phase will be renovating an old three-story section and the third part will be the demolition of the front of the old building to make playgrounds. He added the whole project was funded locally so there was no tax increase for people in the district.

“We’re pretty proud of that,” Payne said.

After the Christmas break, part of the old elementary school will be torn down and three playgrounds will be built.

“The kids are looking forward to that,” Holmes said. He added there will be more parking and a separate drop off spots for kids who ride the bus and those dropped off by a parent.

“It’s improvement all around for us,” Holmes said, adding that the school improved its state testing scores. “With our tests scores up, we are really happy with what’s happening in Dawson-Bryant schools.”

There will be one new face among the staff. Audrey Sturgill will be the new second grade teacher. Other teachers are moving grades — Summer Back, who taught art, will now teach fifth grade and Tammy Koch, who taught kindergarten, will teach Spanish and art.

Students in kindergarten through second grade will be changing classes for reading and math. Under a program called “ability grouping,” students are placed according to their abilities and needs just like the rest of the students in the school system. Ability grouping had not been utilized until third grade.

Holmes said this way students can get help if they need it.

“The state of Ohio has pretty much dictated this by the school reports,” he said. “They expect us to provide intervention for the students that need it and advanced or accelerated classes for the students that can do the work.”

At Dawson-Bryant High School, they are excited about their new football field, which the Hornets are already practicing on.

“We have a new turf field, we’ll be ready to start when we have our preview games,” said Dawson-Bryant High School Principal Steve Easterling. “They tell me it is very similar to the one they have at Ohio State University.”

“We will have the preview game Friday night,” Payne said. “So everyone can come and check it out.”

One change students will notice is a new security system that requires anyone attempting to enter the building to be buzzed in by someone on the inside.

Easterling said that in a way he doesn’t like having such a security system.

“But it’s the times we live in,” he said. “I don’t think anything will happen, but we want our students and staff to feel secure.”

Payne said that the doors also feature a way to lock from the inside.

“We don’t want a student or a teacher to put themselves in harm’s way if there is an intruder,” he said.

While no new programs are in place at the high school this year, the goal remains the same as last year — improving scores on the Ohio Graduation Test.

“I don’t think you are ever satisfied with your scores,” Easterling said. He added that schools and teachers have no trouble being held accountable on scores, but he does think that there should be other factors for students to graduate than one test.

“But that’s the way it is,” he said. “So our goal remains that the students pass the test and graduate with a diploma and a good education.”

There are two new faces at the high school. Randy Ward is the new social studies teacher as well as the new head basketball coach. Meghan Frasure will be teaching ninth grade English.

Dawson-Bryant schools Superintendent Jim Payne said districtwide, there will be more training for advancement placement courses in social studies and English.

“Beginning in ’08-’09, we will have advancement courses in all areas, but this is the start,” he said. There are already advance placement courses for chemistry, calculus and statistics.”