New Taylorsville Elementary School is top of the line

John Shindlebower

At one time, there was a stigma attached to attending Taylorsville Elementary School. It was known as the old school, the lesser school, or the inferior school. Some of those labels were unfair, but the stigma was real. Today, that stigma has been destroyed.

Come next week when students in Spencer County return to class, TES will be a showcase facility for the entire district.

TES Principal Steven Rucker said it’s well-deserved for the students and staff and comes at a time when the school has turned the corner academically.

“It couldn’t come at a better time,” said Rucker as he gave a tour of the new 80,000 square foot school to a few county officials last week.

Rucker said he’s able to tell students that their hard work has been rewarded by county residents investing some $20 million into their new school. That was an estimate he gave for the building’s cost, including the land, labor, construction materials, architectural and engineering fees.

The new building is impressive in just about every way, especially when contrasted with the building TES was formerly housed in, portions of which were built in the 1930s.

Rucker said the new school will have the fastest internet in the county and rooms dedicated for art, science, music and specialized training, such as the Reading Recovery program.

TES students will be moving from an old gymnasium that was small, outdated and officials struggled to keep heated, to a 650 person capacity gymnasium that will not only serve the school for physical education, recess and assemblies, but the entire community by hosting recreational leagues.

The cafeteria also doubles as a full-size gymnasium, giving the school two working gyms. Rucker noted that the kitchen, washroom and storage area of the new school, is larger than the entire cafeteria building at the old TES.

There are the amenities like bathrooms inside each preschool and kindergarten classroom, with a separate playground for those younger children. There are water fountains and sinks in all the classrooms as well, and the latest in heating and cooling technology, along with advance insulation that helps keep the classrooms comfortable with maximum efficiency.

“I put this project up against any other in the state of Kentucky,” said Rucker, who has been hands on in every phase of the design and construction. In fact, Rucker said he’s not only overseen this project as a principal, but also as a parent.

“I built this school with my own son in mind,” he said of his own child, who will be a first grader at TES. “It has everything I’d want him to have and yet we’ve worked to protect the taxpayer’s dime.”

Rucker said state officials told school officials to expect nearly $750,000 in change orders as construction advanced. However, he said through decisions made before the first shovel of dirt was turned, and through efforts of the local maintenance staff to correct other issues, they’ve held that amount down to less that $75,000.

Workers have been working 13-14 hour days, and also some on weekends to finish the project in time for the beginning of classes next week. Rucker said it will be ready for the school’s open house tomorrow night.

However, Rucker said the school will be “an operational school,” but not yet a “completed school,” explaining that some final touches such as minor painting and other issues will probably be ongoing through the end of September.

Rucker said the crews and firms working on the school have done an amazing job.

“I can’t express enough how blessed we’ve been on this project. We’ve had high quality sub-contractors, a great construction team, the weather the Lord has given us and everything that’s all come together that’s made it possible for us to get in here on time.”

While Rucker is excited about the school, he said he’s even more excited about the continued success and improvement of the quality of education being offered to TES students.

Last year, when the state released accountability scores for schools and districts, TES was labeled a “School of Distinction” and earned the distinguished ranking. State officials marveled at the school’s ability to close the learning gap between TES and Spencer County Elementary School.

Rucker said the building won’t guarantee those results continue, but said they will be a huge help.

“You can have a great school in a terrible building, but it’s harder,” he said.

He said when “children who walk into a bright, open facility that is designed around their needs, it makes a difference.”

“It’s not the building,” said Rucker. “It’s their attitude about the building.”

Rucker is confident TES students will take pride  in their new school, and will view it as pride the community has taken in them.

“They will know that we, as a community, are investing in them.”

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