MONTGOMERY — After years of planning, Barr-Reeve Community Schools broke ground Tuesday afternoon on a project that will expand the corporation’s footprint and bring all its students under one roof.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said Barr-Reeve Superintendent Dr. Travis Madison. “It’s been a long process to get to this point.”

Madison said with the support of previous school board members, teachers, coaches and the community, the building project, which started as an idea for some minor renovation a handful of years ago, will soon be a reality.

“We are very excited,” said Madison, as he addressed the crowd on hand. “This doesn’t happen everywhere. Not every place has a community that backs them like we do.”

With the help of Performance Services, over the next several months, a lot of work will take place on the school grounds.

“This is a big development that’s been a long time coming,” said Steve Thoman with Performance Services, who called Barr-Reeve’s project the most collaborative project he has been involved with. “Over the next 12 to 16 months, you’ll see a lot of work. We are excited to break ground, but we are even more excited to finish the project.”

School Board President Dr. Lana Helms reiterated the importance of the Barr-Reeve community’s support for the project.

“Big thanks to Dr. Travis Madison for his tremendous work,” said Helms, who also thanked the school staff and community for the help in getting the project off and running. “I feel like it’s really been a labor of love for him.”

Barr-Reeve Middle/High School Principal Jeff Doyle said although there will be some growing pains, the time for a project like this that will add classroom space, a gymnasium and more.

“The students are excited,” said Doyle who said as work begins, some adjustments will have to be made to safely handle drop-off and pick-up. “There will be some growing pains, but when you see the product we’ll get, it will be something the community can be proud of.”

Longtime teacher Mark Holt said the growth the corporation has seen over the last few years is the result of the great work of teachers, administrators and staff.

“It’s truly a team effort,” said Holt. “We want to make this the best place we can.”

State Representative Shane Lindauer also made an appearance during the ceremony.

“I can’t believe all the community support you have here,” said Lindauer who is now in his second session as the representative for District 63.

After the dirt was the turned, the school board held its June meeting. The board approved the 2019-20 school breakfast and lunch prices.

Madison said after consulting with the state, student lunch will be $2.60 and adult lunch will be $3.50. Breakfast will be $1.50 for students and $1.80 for adults.

The corporation, Madison said, had a state inspection of the cafeteria late last month, and the inspector was impressed with the corporation’s meal service. Madison said that many corporations who break away from food service providers struggle, but that hasn’t been the case at Barr-Reeve.

“She was impressed with our ladies,” said Madison, who said the inspector asked if she could use the corporation as an example for others. “We learned what we needed to learn from Aramark and then took back over.”

Textbook fees for the upcoming school year were also approved. Kindergarten fees will be $97.92, $96.60 for first grade, $120.28 for second grade, $124.26 for third grade, $125.31 for fourth and $128.10 for fifth grade. Those fees include Chromebooks. Fees for middle and high school students vary depending on the classes students choose.

The corporation also agreed to raise the cost of its driver’s education program for $350.

“The kids do an online program now then do the driving with us,” said Madison, who said since the corporation also recently purchased a car for the driver’s ed program, classes can be offered throughout the year.

“It’s still between $15 and $30 cheaper than the driving schools,” said Doyle who serves as one of the instructors.

Nathan Raber was hired as a new social studies teacher at the middle and high school, and Jamie Knepp was named a new teacher at the primary. Christina Rayhill, Katrina Graber and Courtney Hand were named paraprofessionals.

Justin Seal was also named the new full-time custodian.

Several fall coaches were also named. That list can be found online at www.washtimesherald.com.

The board approved a 3% raise over two years for the corporation’s building level administrators.

“Our administration does a wonderful job,” said Madison.

The next school board meeting will be held at 12:30 p.m. July 16.

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