Work progressing on schedule for new Dover Hill Elementary in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. – Work is continuing on schedule for the new Dover Hill Elementary School in Joplin. We stopped by the site to talk with officials about progress on the school.

The construction equipment is nearly non-stop at the site of the new Dover Hill Elementary. Voters approved the new school to replace the two oldest buildings in the district, West Central and Columbia. Superintendent Dr. Melinda Moss says the new building will enhance the student experience. “Handicapped accessibility, special programming space, I mean, we could just go on and on about all the ways that this will bring us up to code and up to adequate standards for our students.”

Then there’s the two schools soon to be empty. Columbia, is not structurally sound, and unfortunately, can’t be salvaged. Dr. Moss says “The plan for Columbia is that we will raise that building and there’s been some community interest as far as the property that it sits on.”

West Central on the other hand is still in good shape, and Dr. Moss says there’s been some interest in the building from the community, but they haven’t made a final decision yet. “But I do not believe that we’ll see it sitting vacant for long.”

There are currently three bus routes for Columbia and West Central, and Transportation Director Justin Henson says they’ll expand that to four. Director of Facilities Dave Pettit says traffic is one of the number one concerns for the new school. They’ve planned an entrance off of Murphy Boulevard with two lanes in, one lane out. “Which will allow us to stack about 170 to 180 cars that either during drop-off or dismissal, we have plenty of room to queue those cars in to help cut down on any traffic that could take place on Main or Murphy Boulevard.”

Of course, the Coronavirus pandemic came about after the school was first brought up, which has led to some changes to the new building. Pettit says “One of the main things that we’re looking at changing is the HVAC system for this particular building, will be upgraded for the filtration system.”

Pettit says Columbia and West Central hold about 200 students each. Officials say the new school will have a capacity of 450 and could be easily expanded as the city grows.