Apr. 15—Congratulations to the Joplin School District for a successful start to its latest project, the construction of the new Dover Hill Elementary School.
School officials, teachers and students marked the milestone with a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at Dover Hill. The new school, which is projected to open in fall 2022, will replace two of the district's oldest buildings, Columbia and West Central, and will combine their students and staff into a state-of-the-art and modern building.
It's great to see the district celebrate this project, which is much needed. Columbia and West Central have served their purpose well over nearly a century, but they're not suited for 21st-century learning. And Columbia in particular is slowly shifting and deteriorating, leading to safety concerns. A new school will be much better adapted for the needs of today's students and staff.
Joplin voters also are to be congratulated here. It's because of them and their solid approval of a June 2020 bond issue that this school is being built in the first place. The $25 million bond issue, which passed with approximately 78% of the vote, will fund much of Dover Hill's construction and also a new addition at Kelsey Norman Elementary School, for which a groundbreaking ceremony was held in February.
This wasn't the first time Joplin voters have turned out to support their schools; voters also previously approved a $62 million bond issue in 2012 for the rebuilding of schools destroyed by the 2011 tornado and a $57.3 million bond issue in 2007 that led to the construction of two new middle schools. But it might have been the election with the strongest amount of support for a school district proposal, and we're thankful that the community recognized the need for Dover Hill Elementary School.
For those who teach and learn at Columbia and West Central, this marks the start of an exciting new beginning. And we couldn't help but notice the T-shirts that they were wearing. The image on the front of them depicted Columbia and West Central merging into one building, with their students holding hands. This is a wonderful sentiment, and one that can help make the transition easier when it comes time to leave the old schools behind and join together as one new school.