BELT – A project two years in the making has come to a close with a grand opening.
Belt Public Schools unveiled its remodeled elementary wing to the community on Tuesday afternoon with a ribbon cutting ceremony, open house, and barbecue.
“We renovated our entire elementary wing and we also added classrooms and added a multi-purpose center,” Superintendent Kathleen Prody said. “We’re pretty excited for the new facility.”
The original existing building, which housed all of the classrooms, was gutted and now has four new classrooms and two locker rooms. The new area of the elementary wing contains four more classrooms and a multi-purpose center.
“It had been a long time since we had done anything dramatic on the building,” she said. “We knew we had issues with air quality. We just had very old systems. Our classrooms were very small and cramped.”
Two years ago, the Belt community passed a $4.6 million bond to pay for the renovations. School Board Trustee Dan Miller said school officials are thankful for the community’s commitment. He added that despite the bond, school district taxes have decreased.
“I think we produced something nice,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to see the excitement that the teachers have after a challenging year last year. The minute they could get in here, they were here setting up.”
During construction last year, elementary students and teachers were packed into the middle and high school wings.
“We took every office, every open space, we moved kids around,” Prody said. “We found space to house all of our students in two thirds of our building.”
Dick Anderson Construction was the general contractor while CTA Architects handled the design process.
Logan Gondeiro, a 2010 Belt graduate, was the project engineer. With one child and another on the way, he said he’s thrilled to see the place his kids will receive an education.
“It was a really fun project for myself as I had many of the teachers who still work here,” he said. “For my kids to grow up in this environment means a lot.”
And the staff themselves are pleased.
“I graduated from Belt and so to see us go through this process is unbelievable,” Librarian JJ Meissner said. “It’s just really neat to see the way the community came together.”
Around 250 early kindergarten through fifth grade students will learn in the elementary wing. They return to class on Thursday.
Reporting by Natalie McAlpine for MTN News