It has been a long road, but the time is finally here. Perry County School District No. 32 offered a “sneak peak” inside the newly constructed Primary Center with a tour for community leaders on Tuesday.
It is a time that Primary Center Principal Emily Koenig thought would never arrive.
“This is a dream come true,” Koenig said. “I tell people that all the time. We have dreamed about this moment for a long time, but never thought it would be a reality while I was here.”
The Primary Center was made possible in part thanks to the passing of the “Proposition Kids” tax levy in 2017 that was expected to raise $15 million to help repair, replace and construct new facilities on the school campus in Perryville, and the Primary Center was the first step in a long line of improvements to the Perry County campus.
“It’s a good thing for the kids, it’s a good thing for the teachers, and it’s a good thing for the community,” Koenig said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
The Primary Center will house grades Pre-K-2, while grades 3-5 will take up residence in the old elementary school. Koenig highlighted a few items in the building including several modernized features including a state-of-the-art security system.
The system allows for a safer environment that makes visitors scan a photo ID that quickly runs a background check, which Koenig said is a necessity in today’s day and age.
“The heightened sense of security is needed, especially with the 21st century time that we live in.”
The Primary Center also went into the modern age as it has multiple “collaboration spaces for each grade level to come together to work on projects.
“It prepares them to be adults and work with other people,” Koenig said.
The center also has plenty of space for the fine arts and special area classes, along with minimal disruption. Most classrooms have a bathroom attached to the room or nearby to save valuable instruction time.
“Students will have more time in the classroom and teachers won’t really use that learning time for bathroom breaks.”
Along with the improvements and the classrooms, Koenig made a note to mention the improvements in the cafeteria.
In the past, the elementary school had blocked off three hours to get grades K-4 through the lunch period. But now, with the improved lunch area in the Primary Center, the school lunches are blocked off for a much shorter time period from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Renovations were also made to the cafeteria and kitchen area in the elementary school along with multiple special needs, and fine areas as well.
The biggest being tht the fifth grade, which was housed in its own building separate from both the middle and elementary schools now have a space near the fourth grade.
That’s a big change for the staff and what they are used to,” Koenig said.. “I’ve had some teachers tell me that they now feel like they are part of the campus and team, now that they have their own space closer to everyone else.”
The Primary Center also has a FEMA tornado shelter in the gym that can house 940 people in the event of a storm and is reinforced with steel and concrete. It is rated to withstand a EF-5 storm.
The district will hold its official ribbon cutting on August 27 from 4-6 p.m. and offer tours for those interested in seeing the new building on campus.
Hopefully, as the projects throughout the campus are finished, things in the Primary Center and other buildings will become the norm for everyone and what they come to expect from this district.”