By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Joyner Elementary will have a new shine when it greets students and teachers in August.
The school, which was damaged by the April 28 tornado, will get a new roof, fresh paint and upgraded floors this summer. The kindergarten wing, which had the heaviest damage, will be completely restored.
“It has allowed us to update and modernize a lot of the electrical work, the furniture, the facilities and everything,” said Andy Cantrell, executive director of operations for the school district.
The twister ripped off shingles, punched a hole in the roof and shredded the metal surface that covered the kindergarten classrooms. Those rooms had more than an inch of standing water, while other parts of the kindergarten to second-grade building received water damage.
Crews from JBHM architects, Century Construction, ServPro and Graham Roofing, plus district employees and volunteers worked hard in the days after the tornado for the school to reopen one week later. First- and second-graders finished the school year in the building, while kindergartners spent the final three weeks at nearby Church Street Elementary.
Now crews will spend the summer to finish that work so the building can reopen for all students when the new school year begins Aug. 4.
“That will be so exciting,” said Joyner Principal Kim Foster. “We had a great opportunity to have a wonderful place to put our kindergartners, but there is nothing like having everyone back at home and having your whole family back together again.”
Their work is scheduled to be completed by July 21, which would give teachers time to prepare their classrooms for the arrival of students. Walls in those rooms are currently bare, as is the floor, which is now concrete in preparation for the installation of colorful new tiles. The building’s shingle roof has been replaced, and the flat roof in the kindergarten wing is being removed.
The majority of the $2.5 million project will be covered by insurance and other reimbursements, Superintendent Gearl Loden said, noting it will cost the district about $50,000.
“From everything we are hearing, the project is on schedule,” Loden said. “We should have our teachers back with more than enough time to have their rooms set up. By the time school starts back, it will look like a new building for our boys and girls.”