Smithville students to begin year out of town

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

SMITHVILLE – Smithville students will begin the new school year on Monday, but they will not yet be back in their hometown.
That return was delayed as work continues on the temporary campus in Smithville that will host students for most of this year.
Instead, kindergarten to sixth-grade students will have classes on Monday at Meadowood Baptist Church in Amory, and seventh- to 12th-graders will go to the Monroe County Advanced Learning Center in Becker.
The goal is to have the new campus ready by Aug. 29, said Monroe County Superintendent Scott Cantrell.
“We hope the weather cooperates,” Cantrell said, noting delays caused by recent rainstorms.
Smithville’s roughly 600 students have been displaced since an April 27 tornado destroyed much of the town’s buildings, including the school’s campus. Students finished the school year at Hatley and at the Advanced Learning Center.
This year, they will have classes on a 19-acre plot of county-owned land near Industrial Street. The Monroe County School District decided to locate 42 portable classrooms on that spot while renovations continue on the permanent campus continue.
However, that temporary campus is not yet ready to host students and teachers.
Work was delayed while the Federal Emergency Management Agency completed an environmental assessment. Those preparations began in mid-July and have gone smoothly, Cantrell said. But preparing the grounds, electricity, plumbing, sewers and everything else is a long process, he said.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com