COVINGTON — Many thanks were given Sunday afternoon at Covington Schools as the district formally dedicated their new K-8 school building, bringing forth to their educational fleet a campus that now houses both elementary and middle school students in Covington.
“It’s more than just the school, it’s the community, it’s everybody binding together,” Dr. Dean Pond, president of the Covington Board of Education, said.
Pond took the time to recognize the efforts of former Covington Schools Superintendent Dave Larson, who campaigned for the bond issue that made this school building possible. Larson is now working as the curriculum director at the Miami County Educational Services Center.
Pond also recognized the Covington Board of Education, Project Manager Steve Miller, and Treasurer Carol Forsythe, and made sure to call attention to the community at large who supported the building of this new school.
“More important than the leadership, it was the people who got behind it,” Pond said. “It was a wonderful experience, and we are living the dream.”
The new K-8 school building project was co-funded by the the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC). Its total cost — including its multiple phases, such as engineering and construction — was approximately $19 million. The Covington school district approved a 3.89-mill levy and a 0.25 percent income tax in May 2013 in order to fund the $9 million portion of the project for which the district was responsible. That portion included $8 million for the newly constructed PK-8 school and $1 million for the renovations at the high school.
Miller, during his speech, recalled starting the construction portion of the project on a cold day in March 2015 with working on the what would become the road to exit the school. Miller explained how the building soon began to take shape, little by little.
“The building started to grow out of the ground,” Miller said.
Miller recognized the engineering firm for the project, Fanning/Howey Associates, as well as the contractor, Peterson Construction Company, and the OFCC. Representatives from those companies and the state met with Miller every Thursday during construction.
“I can tell you, not all of those meetings were warm and fuzzy,” Miller said. “But I can tell you, at the end, we worked together to get the project completed.”
Miller also thanked the community for passing the bond issue.
“Without your vote, it wouldn’t have happened,” Miller said.
Miller went on to thank the current Covington schools Superintendent Gene Gooding and others before thanking for their excitement the students, faculty, and staff now using the new school building.
“I want to thank the kids for the first day of school … they were all smiles,” Miller said.
Teacher Beth Humphrey explained how the little things about this new building add up to an overall enhanced learning environment for the students. One example was the school’s heating and cooling system, which now includes air conditioning. Humphrey explained that students tend to score better when the room temperature is around 72 degrees versus 60 or 80 degrees.
Humphrey also said that the classrooms now have microphones to help students in the back of the classroom hear better and digital boards that the teachers can project graphs and photos on to better educate visual learners. The rooms and hallways have also been designed to absorb sound, which will decrease distracting hallway traffic noises.
The school is also safer and more secure, having numerous exits, locked doors, and a single-floor plan with no stairs.
“All these little things add up to one great place to learn,” Humphrey said.
When Gooding took the stage, more thanks were issued to Covington Mayor Ed McCord, Village Administrator Mike Busse, the Covington Police Department, the Covington Board of Education, Forsythe, former board member Brad Hall, Miller, Larson, the levy committee, and the community.
“We are going to run this building as efficiently as we can to live up your vision,” Gooding said.
While Sunday was a joyous occasion for the Covington school district, Gooding also made a point of recognizing the tragic anniversary that the dedication fell on, asking attendees to stand and pause in remembrance of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. The crowd continued to stand as the Covington band performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The band also performed “A Song of Hope” and “God Bless America” before the event ended with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and refreshments.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336