The shovel has hit the dirt at Schultz Elementary School.
About 125 people, including school board members, students, former teachers and community members, gathered Wednesday, May 28, at the school for the first of many groundbreakings as the district begins a series of renovations that will affect every building.
"It was fun to get our shovels in the dirt, and we are looking forward to several more groundbreaking ceremonies," said Superintendent Paul Craft. "Dempsey will follow in a few months, but it's great to have the first one under our belts."
Delaware City School District voters approved a 3.6-mill bond issue in 2013 that secured funds for district facilities.
The district will bring in around $50 million over the four-year life of the bond to renovate school buildings to accommodate increased enrollment. The money also will allow the elementary schools to house all fifth-grade students currently at Willis Intermediate School, bringing the district into traditional K-5 alignment.
Schultz will receive an additional 12 classrooms and a connecting road from Applegate Lane to Willow Down Lane to redirect traffic flow.
Larry Davis, former district facilities and transportation director and current project manager, said Schultz was chosen as the starting point for two main reasons: It is in the fastest-growing area of the district, and it is the newest facility, making it the easiest to renovate.
Last week's ceremony was attended by Pat Bohner, the first principal at Schultz, as well as Robert F. Schultz's family members, including his wife, Mary Lou Schultz, and some of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A tree was dedicated to Robert F. Schultz and planted at the entryway of Applegate Lane.
"It is really neat to have that tree in place, and especially since one of Robert's grandsons will be attending kindergarten at Schultz in the fall," Davis said.
Also in attendance were members of the Delaware school board, about 25 students from Schultz, former teachers from the first days of Schultz's existence, and a crowd of area residents.
At the ceremony, Craft thanked the community for its support in helping the district to keep growing and for voting to approve bond issues that make it easy for the district to take care of increased enrollment.
"We were so fortunate to have a plan that the community could support and we want our district to be every bit as good as the community," Craft said.
The first phase of construction on the roads is scheduled to be completed Aug. 1, before school starts. Renovations will continue during the school year and are scheduled to be completed July 15, 2015.
Renovations will not interfere with the school year, and construction areas will be roped off while school is in session, district leaders said.