Old and New: Century celebration of Jarrett Middle School will end with move to new facility in early 2023

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:09 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:39 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Jarrett Middle School is one of Springfield Public Schools’ oldest buildings still in use. It is celebrating 100 years of providing educational opportunities to the community at its current location just west of Missouri State University.

But that century of service is about to come to a close.

“This is an incredible time because we’re leaving an institution that’s been here serving families for 100 years,” said Jarrett Principal Kirk Slater. “But it’s hard not to get excited about moving into a brand new facility.”

So they’re leaving one of the district’s oldest buildings to go into the newest and most expensive facility approved in the 2019 bond issue. Built on Portland St. just behind KY-3, the new $41.5 million Jarrett is about one-and-a-half times bigger (80,000 sq.-feet compared to $132,000 sq.-feet) than the old Jarrett, and it’s like comparing a rocket ship to a Model-T.

“The biggest difference between here and there? Well, I could probably say everything,” Slater answered. “We’re going to have elevators that work and a lot better restroom facilities. We’re excited about every aspect of it.”

While the old Jarett was landlocked, the new Jarrett will have a track and football field in the back. Instead of an old auditorium, the new Jarrett has a huge cafeteria and stage area with steps where students can study and socialize, called “learning steps,” and a full-size gym at the top of those steps. The storm shelter, band, and choir rooms all have acoustic blocks for soundproofing, and the classrooms have plenty of natural lighting and open space between the classes that can be used for multiple purposes.

“Everyone I’ve talked to who has been in the building, the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, ‘It’s huge!’” Slater said. “Like here (in the old Jarrett), we’ve got ceilings that are probably 10 feet. They’re going to be twice that in some areas over there.”

“You don’t want to cookie-cutter the same building,” explained SPS Executive Director of Operations Travis Shaw. “We definitely wanted it to be nothing like the old Jarrett, and I think we’ve accomplished that. We didn’t want it to be cinderblock. Shut the door, and you don’t see anybody. We’ve known for years that kids learn differently, so to have a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching in the classroom doesn’t exist anymore. That’s why this has flexible space for kids and teachers. You can have lessons going on in the classroom and have other students out in the flexible space doing something completely different still with the teacher still able to supervise.”

The new school will also be accessible for all students as the old Jarrett has a lot of steps.

“It’s going to be a joy to come to Jarrett and not a hindrance because of all the obstacles and challenges you face just getting into the building,” Slater pointed out.

And despite supply chain and labor issues that set back the completion date two months, the new Jarrett target date is now set.

“Something could happen, but our plan right now is to move forward with it being finished in the middle of January,” Shaw said. “Then we’ll work between now-and-then on what the plan looks like to move students in.”

Jarrett currently has about 500 students enrolled but will grow to about 725 in the new building.

“This is going to be a STEM school, and a lot of people may not be aware of that,” Shaw said. “But that’s why we built it to the size we did because we anticipate there will be a lot of students wanting to transfer in to participate in that program.”

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