MT. JULIET – Rapid-fire student growth at Rutland Elementary School has prompted Wilson County school officials to double the campus there with a groundbreaking scheduled for Wednesday.
The official ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. with Wilson County Schools Director Mike Davis, county and city dignitaries and the school's administrative staff and teachers on hand to help turn the first shovels of dirt on what will be a new 75,000-square-foot building.
"We are currently stuffed," said assistant principal Stephanie Hines. "All the growth in the Providence area has our student numbers growing exponentially."
Scheduled to be ready for the 2013-14 school year, the new building will house the school's pre-kindergarten through second-grades with a predicted 400-plus students and 30 teachers and support staff.
The price-tag for this addition is $13.7 million, according to Deputy Director Mickey Hall. He said this amount includes not only the construction, but also furnishings and technology.
Hines said the new building will replicate Mt. Juliet Elementary School on West Division Street.
"It will have everything we have in this existing school," she said. "It will have a gym, music room, cafeteria and library. It's like taking Mt. Juliet Elementary School and plopping it down here on our campus, minus just a couple classes."
There will be a predicted seven classes each in kindergarten through second-grade and one pre-kindergarten class.
The school opened in 1999 with kindergarten through sixth-grade with 581 students. In 2001, the sixth-grade was removed with more than 500 students. According to Hines, this year there are 834 students and four portable classrooms with two fifth-grade classes taught in the art room.
School officials said the student population growth won't stop. A look at student records reveals 87 percent of the current students are the oldest child in their families, with siblings at home ready to enter school.
"We had the first addition there in 2007," said Davis. "What we are going to build is similar to the size already there. It will double space. That area is growing because of the Providence area."
Hines said they are eager to move into the new building next school year. She said it will relieve the existing squeeze and hopefully have ample room to accommodate the influx of students predicted to enroll in coming years.
"This is just a great area to live in," she said. "Mt. Juliet is growing all over, but the Providence area is a draw as well as the Beckwith area which are both near here and attracting young families. People love Wilson County; it still has a small town feel."
Rutland's test scores were high last school year despite the squeeze. Hines said they were especially proud of the "great gains" they scored.
No students will be on hand at Wednesday's groundbreaking because it is scheduled as a half-day for them.
Mt. Juliet News Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.