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School renovations plans change | Schools

School renovations plans change | Schools

Irving Elementary School is back on Muskogee Public Schools’ bond issue to-do list, but not as an immediate project, said Assistant MPS Superintendent Lance Crawley.

Meanwhile, crews are working to finish renovation of Grant Foreman Elementary by next fall, so it can temporarily house Sadler Arts Academy students while Sadler is being renovated, he said.

Major renovations at Sadler and Grant Foreman are part of a $110 million bond issue approved in 2019. The bond issue also included $1 million renovations each at Irving, Pershing, Creek and New Tech at Cherokee elementary schools. 

While Cherokee, Creek and Pershing were renovated over the summer, Irving was not. Irving patrons recently expressed concern about the school’s future and why the school was not slated for repairs. 

Crawley said that, of the four schools, Irving had the most structural issues, “which made a summer project there not practical.”

Such issues include where to put a secure entrance vestibule and roof issues at the cafeteria, he said.

Long-range plans for Irving were another concern, he said. 

Enrollment declines prompted MPS to change school configuration earlier this year. Part of that included closing Grant Foreman during the 2021 school year for renovations. During a long-range planning committee in March, school officials broached the possibility of eventually moving Irving to Grant Foreman, which officials felt was had more opportunities for growth. No action was taken on that proposal.

Crawley said work at Irving is back on the agenda. However, any project is “to be announced.” 

“We’ve got work to do there,” Crawley said. “We will have to spend some time with some involved committees at Irving.”

Former Irving Principal Dennis Wilhite, who had expressed concern about the building’s status, said he has met with school officials, including Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall.

“I believe Irving is going to be in session next year and hopefully is going to be in session a long time,” Wilhite said. “That’s our hope.”

He said his talks with Mendenhall were productive.

“Dr. Mendenhall was really direct, and I see progress happening,” Wilhite said. “How he presents it to the long-range planning committee is still up in the air.”

The long-range planning committee is to meet Thursday.

Grant Foreman renovations include a more secure entry vestibule and new windows that can open to improve air flow. There also will be new paint, new ceilings and, in most of the school, new floors.

Permanent walls will replace accordion walls in classrooms, he said.

Crawley said Grant Foreman is to house Sadler Arts Academy students while while Sadler is to receive “a complete interior gut job.”

“There will be rearranging for more classroom space, new flooring, new furniture, new lighting,” he said. 

Additional parking and a loop for drop-off/pick-up are to be added south of the building, and Sadler’s exterior will be power washed, he said.