Palmyra schools looking to upgrade if Proposition 2 is approved in April

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The high-gloss wooden floors in the Palmyra High School gym will be replaced if Prop 2 passes. After years of maintenance, the floor is sanded to its joints. Megan Duncan

PALMYRA, Mo. — The glossy floors might not look in need of repair to people entering the Palmyra High School gymnasium, but after years of sanding and cleaning, they are ready for retirement. 

“They look good for now, but they can no longer be sanded down,” Jason Harper, superintendent of the Palmyra R-I School District, said. “They need to be replaced.”

The gym is not only used for school purposes, but it also regularly hosts public events. 

Harper also pointed out that the 40-year-old bleachers and small two-stall bathrooms need to be replaced and updated to American Disabilities Act standards. 

“We have large crowds coming here, and this is not sufficient,” he said.

Those are only a few of the improvements Harper hopes to implement if the bond referendum known as Proposition 2 passes in the April 2 election.

The proposition, nicknamed the “No Tax Increase Bond Issue,” would provide $8 million to the Palmyra R-I School District for needed safety, infrastructure and energy efficiency upgrades without adding additional cost to taxpayers. The taxpayers’ debt service payment would remain at $0.6730 per $100.

Harper said the funds will touch all three schools in the district.

Safety concerns at the Palmyra Middle School will be addressed by moving the office to the front of the building with a vestibule for visitors to come in without access to the main building. The front door of the middle school is now 70 feet from the office, and when visitors are buzzed in, they can walk into the main building. 

“So there is no true interaction with anyone coming into the building, and then you can’t see what they have with them or what type of emotional state they are in,” Harper said.

Plans also call for the original 1959 galvanized piping running through the cafeteria, bathrooms and sinks in multiple classrooms to be updated. Harper said the inside of the pipes is deteriorated, causing water flow issues and one major break in the boiler room this school year.

“It’s getting to the point where all those joints are rusting enough that our maintenance is afraid to work on them at times,” he said.

Prop 2 would fund removing 22,000 square feet of asbestos tile at the elementary school in hallways, bathrooms and classrooms.

“The building has been added on to multiple times since its original construction in 1959, and it still has the nine-inch asbestos tile,” Harper said. “It’s currently classified as non friable, but some of those tiles are starting to pop up and so we have had to report it. We want to get that out of the building.”

Another focus of the funds will be enlarging the cafeteria area at the high school to host the growing number of students. Cafeteria workers are hindered by the outdated kitchen and insufficient storage. To retrieve freezer items, employees must leave the kitchen to access an outside freezer room.

The kitchen redesign will allow employees to access the freezer without leaving the kitchen. It will provide ample space for prep work and upgrade appliances that are more than 50 years old.

Other upgrades would be:

  • New ceilings where old tiles are disintegrating
  • Family and Consumer Science Center upgrading to a commercial kitchen and with four traditional kitchens for student cooking.
  • Art room upgrades
  • Enlargement of alternative classroom
  • 1971 high school locker rooms and offices

Harper estimates the work to begin the summer of 2025 if Prop 2 is approved.

The summer of 2024 will be dedicated to replacing 20-year-old heating, ventilation and air conditioning  units for all Palmyra schools. A transformer at the high school that was original to the 1971 building also would be replaced.

Harpers said those projects would be funded by federal emergency funds for COVID known as ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds that have been received by the school during the last several years.

“Palmyra takes a lot of pride in their schools, so to be able to do this for the kids of the community is just a big upgrade for everyone,” Harper said. “I feel like in the future not it sets us up to look at bigger and better things.”

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