EDWARDSVILLE - As Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7 (ECUSD7) prepares for the first day of school on Aug. 16, Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton explains summer renovations and plans for the upcoming year.

Edwardsville High School underwent a major renovation this summer when the media center that was previously housed in the high school was torn down and replaced with classrooms and offices. Shelton explained that this will allow freshmen students to stay at the high school all day instead of traveling between campuses.

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“That’s probably the biggest one,” he said. “They had to fill in part of [the two-level media center] and then build up from there. They ripped it all down except for exterior walls and started over. So we’ve got eight classrooms, four offices, a little collaboration space. It’s going to be a great space for kids."

The ECUSD7 Board approved the renovation last March, accepting a bid of approximately $680,000 from C. Rallo Contracting Co., Inc., in St. Louis. Construction was completed this week.

Due to a lack of classrooms at the high school, freshmen students previously attended classes at N.O. Nelson Campus, which also serves as a branch of Lewis and Clark Community College. The high school’s class periods are 54 minutes, but freshmen class periods were closer to 40 minutes to account for time spent traveling.

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Freshmen will now be able to attend all classes at the high school, eliminating the travel time concern. Shelton noted that the renovation also increases students’ access to the high school’s resources.

“[Students] lost some instructional time there, and then just having access to all the resources and things that are on campus at the high school,” Shelton explained. “Our counselors, our nurses — we could get them those things, but it was just a bigger challenge being on that other campus…Now they’re able to stay on campus all day long.”

ECUSD7 has plans to eventually rebuild the media center as a part of the district’s five-year bond project. In the meantime, they’re looking forward to the start of the school year and settling into the new space at the high school.

Shelton explained that there is usually a sense of relief at the beginning of the summer as teachers and staff celebrate the end of the school year, but they quickly miss the students.

“You get about halfway through the summer, and we need teachers and kids back in the building,” he said, adding, “There’s a lot going on in different aspects of the district. So I think just knowing that there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that happen to just try to make the whole school experience better for kids and make sure that our kids, when they leave us, are ready for whatever comes next in their personal and professional endeavors.”

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