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RICHFIELD TO GET NEW ELEMENTARY BUILDING

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Although the halls at one of Richfield's most prominent and historic buildings still ring with the laughter of schoolchildren, that scenario will soon fade away.

Members of the Sevier School District Board of Education have opted for new construction and expansion at the Ashman Elementary School over remodeling the adjacent 90-year-old rock building or bringing in portable classrooms."Students will meet in the old building next year, and then the board will decide what to do with it," said Superintendent Brent J. Thorne. "They will then look at options."

Youngsters from kindergarten through the sixth grades were housed in the two buildings for many years. Sixth-graders were moved to a new middle school several years ago and another change was affected last year.

Kindergarten through the third grades now attend the Ashman School while the two older grades attend the Pahvant Elementary.

Options were developed after the Ashman Parent-Teacher Association didn't want school to continue in the old building and wanted a new addition. Claims that the wiring was in poor condition and that the building was not safe were not substantiated by an architect following an investigation earlier this year, however.

The building was declared structurally sound by architect Dan Losee. He concluded the lumber is a better grade than can be purchased today, the wiring is in good condition and that there was little else wrong with the building.

It was estimated it would cost about $357,000, including a deferred maintenance cost of $118,000, to remodel the building. The figure didn't include asbestos removal, however.

"By the time we get a state grant for the preschool, it is about a wash," said Superintendent Brent Thorne, meaning there would be an insignificant difference in the costs of the two options.

The new addition and remodeling is estimated to cost about $425,000, but the district will get a $75,000 grant from the state.

Thorn said the grant is earmarked for the district's preschool and must be used for new construction only. It wouldn't have been available for remodeling the old rock school building.

The new addition and remodeling will allow for a dozen new classrooms, one of which may be a computer center. The construction will be around a "pod" area south of the newer building and near the west end.

The addition will cut out some of the playground area that doesn't get much utilization. "The principal feels it will not impact the playground area," the superintendent said.

Thorne recommended the add-on option to the school board after reviewing a floor plan that was revised from the original proposal and included a lower cost. The revised plan was suggested by Principal Will Jolley as an alternative to the one drawn by the architect.

The move will provide the district's preschool with a home of its own for the first time, with four of the new classrooms designated for its use. Preschool is a federally mandated program primarily for the handicapped but can include other children, district officials explained.

It was reported that much of the new addition will be financed with funds currently available. Some new property taxes are likely to be approved, however.

Pat Wilson, district accountant, estimates the project will cost a property owner with a home valued at $119,000 about $10 per year - a decrease of about $5 compared to the original plan.

Thorne said Losee will be the architect of the project and is in the process of developing plans.

The district will probably be ready to let bids in about mid-July, according to Samuel Ware, director of business affairs.

Construction is expected to be completed and the building in use for the 1995-96 school year.