Mascoutah High School ready to expand
Six years after Mascoutah’s new high school was built, construction crews could be returning to work on some areas that were left unfinished at the time.
The exteriors of these spaces were constructed along with the rest of the school, located at 1313 West Main St., but their interiors were never completed. The plan was to come back to these classroom shells if the school needed them in the future.
Principal Sandy Jouglard says that time is now.
239 New students who have come to Mascoutah High School in the last seven years
Several teachers are using a single classroom throughout the day because they don’t have rooms of their own, she said, and the demand for classes in math and science has increased for college-bound students.
But the real driving force is student growth. According to Jouglard, enrollment has increased from 887 students to 1,126 in the last seven years. Jouglard said that’s due to new homes that have been built nearby, and an influx from Scott Air Force Base, where 58 percent of Mascoutah High School’s students come from.
The school board has accepted bids for a project that would finish construction on about 12,000 square feet on the second floor, according to Mascoutah District 19 Superintendent Craig Fiegel. It would become four classrooms, including two science labs, as well as two teachers’ lounges, a restroom and an area for students to use printers.
There are some issues with access to these unfinished spaces because they were added to the plan after the building had originally been designed, Fiegel said. He described them as “kind of an afterthought.”
“There really wasn’t good planning for access to the shell spaces. ... There were lots of people involved is part of the problem,” Fiegel said.
Construction crews would have to build new hallways where offices are located currently, Jouglard said, which would also add room for more than 250 new lockers.
If the board approves the bids, Jouglard said work would start at the end of February or early March, with minimal disturbance to classes because crews would be coming from the outside in to work on the spaces.
The goal is to have the new classrooms ready for students and teachers by August.
Fiegel said board members are expected to consider the project bids at their Jan. 17 meeting.
They have about $2.3 million to spend on the project, which comes from bonds issued for construction at the high school. Jouglard said that’s enough to focus on these unfinished spaces, but not those on the first floor. The high school was built with two large shells, each with two floors. The first-floor spaces could be completed at a later date, but Jouglard said there’s no plan for those areas at this point.
While there isn’t enough money to consider both floors at the same time, Fiegel said the budget might allow the district to also build a 6,500-square-foot building that could be used for student groups like wrestlers to practice. Right now, wrestlers roll out their mats in the second-floor shell space that would become a pair of science labs with board approval of the project.
We never seem to have enough space, especially in winter. ... It’s just very busy here.
Sandy Jouglard, Mascoutah High School principal
Jouglard said the school has two existing gyms, but sometimes that’s not enough.
She said groups that perform and compete, like cheerleaders, the dance team, color guard and drill team, can be found practicing in corridors and entryways at the school. They use a rotating schedule to try to give all of the groups some time in the gyms, which Jouglard said can mean coming to school as early as 6 a.m.
“We never seem to have enough space, especially in winter,” she said. “ ... It’s just very busy here.”
But the multipurpose building is a tentative addition to the project. Fiegel said bids have to come in within the district’s budget for the school board to consider it at the same time as the classroom build outs.
The practice space would be built where a patio now sits between the school’s football field and the auxiliary gym.
District leaders will prioritize construction of the classrooms, Fiegel said.
Jouglard said one of the four classrooms would have some sort of divider, like a curtain, so that it can become two 30-desk rooms if needed. Another, larger classroom would hold 61 desks, according to floor plans provided by the district. Fiegel said these would be used for math and possibly social studies classes.
Plans also call for a science lab that could be used for biology classes, as well as science, technology, engineering and math classes as the district grows its curriculum. Jouglard said that lab needs access to water and gas. It’s designed with some open spaces, she said, so students would have room to build robots, for example, if the high school adds robotics into its coursework.
The second new science lab, which is smaller in the floor plan, would be used by chemistry classes. Jouglard said it needs access to gas and electricity.
$2.3 million Money available to use toward proposed construction
Part of the reason Jouglard says Mascoutah High School needs more classrooms for math and science is because college-bound students, about 82 percent of the school’s enrollment, are taking four years of each subject — beyond school requirements.
The school requires the state-mandated two years of science and three years of math. Jouglard said students continue to take these classes after meeting the requirements because it helps them with SAT and ACT standardized tests. High scores can mean they earn money toward college, she said.
Teachers also stand to benefit from the new classrooms. Most of the new rooms would be assigned to teachers, which Jouglard said is especially helpful in science classes.
Jouglard was a high school biology teacher before becoming a principal. She said science teachers need time to set up labs for students, which can be difficult to do when they have to share a classroom with other teachers.
Mascoutah’s classrooms also use Smart Board technology, which is an interactive whiteboard; Jouglard said teachers spend about five to seven minutes of class time logging in and out of their accounts to access teaching materials when they shuffle around to different rooms.
Jouglard said she’s excited to see the project could start moving forward soon with board approval, but she’s retiring before it would be completed. Her contract ends June 30. A new principal would start July 1.
Fiegel said Jouglard has advocated for the project for years.
“I would say Mrs. J has pushed for this for quite a while,” Fiegel said.