Steps of Growth

Published 11:11 am Friday, June 12, 2009

IRONTON — Moving 28 years worth of educational material will mean some hard work for the Ironton Catholic Schools but it will also open the door for growth and opportunity.

Ironton’s Catholic community is satisfied and excited about this summer’s move of St. Lawrence Elementary School into the larger Kingsbury building on Sixth Street.

“It’s giving us more room, giving us room to expand and giving us a larger playground,” St. Lawrence/St. Joseph Principal Jim Mains said. “The move gives us a lot of positive things.”

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In addition to offering more flexibility for classrooms, St. Lawrence is going to use the extra rooms as a computer lab, a music room and a library to fit the needs of their student population.

The move, a result of Ironton City Schools’ new building projects, will begin as soon as ICS completes the building.

“Once Ironton gets everything out we’ll start the process of moving,” Mains said. He said ICS hopes to be out of the building by the end of June. St. Lawrence begins school Aug. 19.

“It’s going to be down to the wire for us,” said Sissy Clyse, development director for the Ironton Catholic Schools. “It’s going to be a tremendous amount of work and we’re going to rely on our volunteers.”

Those volunteers will come from the church and community.

The project is likely to be time consuming due to planned renovations that include painting and other cosmetic changes within the building.

Mains also said the technology would be updated to include Internet access in all classrooms, something that St. Lawrence has never had before.

The parents and students are excited about the upcoming move.

“I am wonderfully excited,” said Father David Huffman. “It’s exciting to have everything in a more compact unit,” he said, referring to the closer proximity Kingsbury has to the two Ironton Catholic Churches.

“Our parents are really excited,” Clyse said. “We are looking forward to it.”

Clyse, Mains and Huffman are ecstatic about the cooperation the ICS have maintained with the Catholic community.

“We’re fortunate,” Mains said. “We have a real working relationship with the Ironton City Schools. We have had for years and hope to continue that in the future.”

Ironton Superintendent Dean Nance said the city schools are happy to continue this partnership that he says is win-win.

“Both institutions are doing an excellent job educating the children of the citizens of Ironton” Nance said. “We have had a great working relationship with the Catholic schools.”

Nance said the Catholic schools have always maintained the property well, paid the rent on time and been good partners.

The Ironton Catholic Schools have leased the Lawrence Street School building from the public school district since 1981.

The lease agreement is at a cost of $500 per month, a rate that was carried over to the new lease for Kingsbury.

While that may sound like a good bargain, the Ironton Catholic Schools are responsible for all maintenance costs, something that Clyse said has costs tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

The Catholic schools will begin a capital campaign in the coming weeks to fund improvements at both the Kingsbury building — which will become the new St. Lawrence — and St. Joseph High School.

Depending on the funds raised, projects could include technology upgrades, especially at the elementary level, renovating the playground at Kingsbury, an interior facelift and maintenance at both schools and potentially adding air conditioning at the high school.

“Our goal is to just create a better environment for all our students in both schools,” Clyse said.

One thing you won’t see on the project list is the construction of a gymnasium. Mains said that many community members have called him about that rumor.

“We have no intentions of building a gym,” Mains said.

Clyse agreed, addressing a recent newspaper column that suggested any sort of project should be named after former coach Pat Sheridan.

“While we have great respect for Mr. Pat Sheridan and his dedication for the Ironton Catholic Schools, we have no intentions of building a gymnasium on the Kingsbury property,” she said. “We would not build on property we do not own.“

The Ironton Catholic Schools will also host an open house at the Kingsbury building once the renovation and moving process is completed.