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Eva students ready for move to new school

By Bayne Hughes
DAILY Education Writer 340-2432

For more than 18 months, eighth-grader Daniel Wright and his fellow students watched as the new Eva Junior High School moved closer to completion.

They suffered cramped portable classrooms and the weather. Ponchos and heavy coats are popular items at this eastern Morgan County school.

Wright said he noticed one thing — "It sure seems to be taking longer than they said it would."

The campus is abuzz pending completion of the $7 million school. After several start-up delays, construction on the school began in October 2003 with hopes of finishing in time to make the move during the past Christmas break.

Weather did not, however, cooperate and school officials continue to push the move back. Morgan County Schools Superintendent Don Murphy said Monday that final inspection is the third week of February. He said school and construction officials do not have a specific date.

Eva Principal Sheila Burt said she is preparing to move as soon she gets the go-ahead. She's already consulted West Morgan Elementary School Principal Roger Houston and Priceville Elementary Principal Martine Bates, two principals who made recent moves.

Houston led the most recent move into a new school during the Christmas holidays.

"I told her not to be disappointed if they keep moving forward the inspection date," Houston said.

Burt is following West Morgan's lead and planning to use volunteers for the move. Teachers will take turns moving, covering each other's classes during the relocation.

"The best things you can do are be organized and get as many volunteers as possible," Houston said. "We got local businesses and our partners in education to help. Teachers got their parents to help them move their rooms."

Like her students, Burt is ready to move out of her portable and into a real office.

The junior high students are in nine portables — six for classes and one each for library, art and music. All are separated. Buses and cars drop off and pick up students in uncovered areas. Students brave the elements to get to class, the cafeteria, library and physical education.

With 25 to 30 students in a class, portable classrooms offer enough space for student desks and the teacher's desk. One teacher described the situation as "like working in a Coke can."

"We're down to the bare bones," Burt said.

Wright said lack of space is particularly noticeable in science class where sometimes there is not enough room for experiments.

Teachers and students can access the Internet only in the school's computer lab. After the move, teachers are getting the computers from the lab. The lab will get 17 new computers bought with library book fair money and matching funds from the Morgan County school board.

Burt said she goes over to the new building almost daily. "It's a nice school," Burt said. "The media center is great, and the foyer is spectacular. The classrooms have lots of space. After everything we've been through the past two years, I think everyone will really appreciate what a nice, new building we have."

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