Willow Springs schools acquires new building

The Willow Springs school district soon will take ownership of the second of two buildings formerly owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The two buildings located off Main Street, near Tenth Street and Forest Lane, once housed MoDOT’s District 9 headquarters. In 2011, the department was forced to restructure due to funding issues and other factors, taking the number of districts from 10 to seven, according to MoDOT’s website.
The city of Willow Springs eventually held the buildings in an agreement with MoDOT, with the goal of bringing economic development to the community.
The school district recently acquired the south MoDOT building from the city for $1 and will begin offering career and technical education classes in the facility as school begins this week.
At regular monthly meetings of the school board and the city’s board of aldermen last week, the second building will be conveyed to the district, again for the price of $1.
“This is really exciting,” superintendent Dr. Marty Spence told the board at the Aug. 14 meeting. “The city has been phenomenal to work with and has offered us the north (MoDOT) building for $1.”
Spence explained to the board that the building’s acquisition will allow the district to meet many of its needs. The district will be able to utilize the former MoDOT buildings as a full CTE campus, moving all career and technical education to those buildings.
Tentative plans include moving agriculture classes to the north building, along with Family and Consumer Sciences. The industrial technology program will move to the current agriculture building. 
This will make room in a permanent structure in the heart of the main campus for the district’s special education program, currently housed in modular units across from the Hicks House.
“All of our CTE classes would be on the MoDOT campus,” said Spence. Estimates are the district will have ample funds for necessary remodeling through remaining ESSER funding, allocated to districts as a result of the pandemic. Those funds must be spent by October 2024. He estimated remodeling for both will cost a total of $131,000. 
Spence emphasized that buildings such as these couldn’t have been built for that amount of money.
“Everybody gets upgraded,” he said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity and we’re appreciative to the city. Because we have the ESSER funding available, it all lines up.”
“It presents us an opportunity we’re not going to have again,” added board president Mac Gum.
In other school board business:
• The board approved the annual operating levy of $2.75 per $100 assessed valuation, unchanged from previous years. 
• The board approved Josiah Smith and Cassie Rutledge as paraprofessionals for the 2023-2024 school year, and approved the resignation of paraprofessional Erica Rogers. The board further approved Mark Conway and Chloe Schwenk as substitute teachers.
• Per state statute, the district will soon begin testing all water outlets for lead. The district will partner with Get the Lead Out for that project.
• The board approved the annual professional development plan and the special education compliance plan as presented.
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