Restore or raze?

By Tressie Casey

The oldest building in the Mt. Vernon School District, above, was originally built for use as an industrial arts and music facility. However, the last time the building was used for educational purposes was in the 1990s, when the old stone structure began its deterioration. (Photo by Tressie Casey)

Demolition may be best choice for dilapidated rock building at Mt. Vernon Middle School
The end may be nigh for an old building on the campus of the Mt. Vernon Middle School. A long recognizable landmark for the district, the two-story rock building which sits next to the former Mountaineer Stadium, now offers more headaches than utility, which might spell its demise.
The future of the building was discussed at the Mt. Vernon Board of Education meeting Thursday, Sept. 20.
Along with several other maintenance projects for the district, the building needs attention, and soon. It is estimated that it would cost between $1.7 million and $2.2 million to repair, which is equivalent to building a new building about the same size. And even if there were an attempt to salvage the building it could still have further unknown problems come up later. It is currently an interior safety issue.
The building is closed down and is not being used for classes. And according to Superintendent Scott Cook it is probably “well beyond salvage.” It is estimated that bids would cost the district $55,000-$60,000 to tear it down. Such a decision for the board will require later discussion. If the rock building were to be demolished, it would most likely take place in the summer months when students are out for break.
 Although unknown by the district, the building may have been originally constructed in the 1920s, and was generally used for classrooms. The building has not been in use since the 1990s.
Other maintenance projects facing the district include:
• The north wall at the Mt. Vernon middle school is showing evidence of settling. This has caused classrooms on the north side of the building to drop about three inches, and has led to some plumbing issues. The reason for the settling is not determined, but it could be caused from roof drainage issues.
• All of the campuses need some electrical updates. The schools are currently running on multiple distribution panels, the hope is to combine those to one panel.
• Several HVAC units are in need of replacing.
• All of the campuses are in need of window replacements. Most of the classrooms still have single paned windows, which are not very energy efficient.
• All campuses need fire alarms installed.
• At each campus there is a need to replace portions of the roof.
In agenda action during the meeting, the board approved the Special Education Local Compliance Plan, the Proportionate Share Expenditure Amount and MSBA Policy updates. The board adopted the 2018-2019 budget. Which had both positive and negative outcomes for this year:
• All districts are benefitting from continued strong projections for the state formula funding.
• The district had an increase in Weighted-Average-Daily-Attendance which is the foundation in state funding. This is good for the district due to the attendance being lower then last year’s. September 4, the district had 1,425 students, which is 15 less than last year.
• There was also an increase in Assessed Valuation.
• The Title 1 and High Need Fund both decreased this year. Title 1 has had a steady decrease over the past four years totaling more than $116,000.
The next Mt. Vernon Board of Education meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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