Big upgrades are planned for Climax Springs R-IV. Here’s what to know.

Mitch Prentice
Lake Sun Leader
The front end of the Climax Springs R-IV school district building.

Traversing 2020 was a major obstacle for superintendents around the lake. From implementing distance learning to installing new safety equipment, there were a lot of unknowns that had to be figured out, and quickly. For Superintendent Caleb Petet, this challenge was faced in his first year at the helm.

Petet previously served as principal for the school and officially came back to join as Superintendent during the 2020-21 school year. He says the year has been challenging to navigate at times, but he feels that the district will be in a good place moving forward once things finally return to normality. 

Even with these added difficulties, the district has been hard at work installing new features to the school and creating a roadmap for futures upgrades. Here is a look at all of the plans Petet and the Climax Springs R-IV administration have in store:

FEMA shelter and classroom additions

One of the upgrades that is already complete is the addition of a new FEMA shelter wing on the school, which houses classrooms for preschool, kindergarten and elementary special education.

The FEMA shelter was inspired by the need for a protective building for the community to use. Petet says that many residential houses in town are without a basement for protection. Previous administration work had been done to pass a bond issue to build a new school, which was narrowly defeated. Without this option for funds, the idea was crafted to apply for a grant to build the FEMA shelter onto the school. This not only achieved the goal of giving the community a safe space for emergencies but was also able to be built into the aforementioned classrooms. 

The classrooms have brand-new tech installed, such as smartboards and projectors. The shelter also has LED motion-detecting lights to increase lighting efficiency. On the note of efficiency, the thick concrete walls used for protection also serve as a great source of insulation. 

The project was a 75/25 split, grant to district dollars. 

New District/Community Playground

One of the current main project focuses is the upgrading of the school playground. This upgrade will be completed in two parts.

A dilapidated building is seen at Climax Springs park.

Firstly, the district is working with the county commissioners to try and obtain ownership of Climax Springs Park. This park is in poor shape and Petet says they hope to tear down the current, unsafe amenities and restore the land into a field for students and community members to use. 

Once this is completed, Petet says they will turn towards upgrading the playground equipment currently installed behind the school. These upgrades will include removing old equipment, repairing existing amenities such as the swingset and finally installing three new pieces of equipment. These three upgrades will include a play place themed around  Dr. Seuss House and a firetruck play place for younger children, as well as a separate pirate ship themed play area for children older than 6. 

Petet says the goal is to combine the two efforts. By tearing down the unsafe equipment at the old park, he says they will be able to open the school playground to all community children and give them a safe place to play. However, if the ownership of the Climax Springs Park is not given to the district, the upgrades at the current school playground will still move forward. 

New District Parking Lots

Another feature that is already complete is the addition of new parking lots around the school building. Two of the three lots are now fully paved for visitors to use, adding around 100 new spaces. The district acquired a number of blighted properties on nearby land, which were demolished. 

Petet says they currently have around 75% of the funds needed to pave the third lot, but they have decided to use that money for the playground project instead. 

“At this point, we feel it’s time to invest in the students before another parking lot,” Petet said. 

FFA expansion and student gardens 

Petet says they have had a surge of interest in their FFA program in its third year, leading to a number of ideas on how the district could expand. 

One of these ideas is to install a community garden on a lot near the new parking lot location. Petet purchased the lot with plans to demolish the homes and install a garden space for the students to use for FFA. He also mentioned the district building a new administration building in this location alongside the gardens. 

If the district is able to build new office spaces here, they have discussed opening up the current FFA room by knocking down the walls that previously held the admin offices.

He says the district has also discussed using the Climax Springs Park as a gardening area if they are able to acquire it (see New District/Community Playground)

Woods Complex Rededication

Donations from Scotts Concrete led the district and coaches to lay new concrete at the Woods Complex softball and baseball field. They were also able to install decorative rocks, repaint signs and purchase an official softball outfield wall through further donations. 

Petet says they are currently working with the boosters club and Oak Star Bank to secure further donations for the purchase of a new scoreboard. 

They hope to hold a rededication ceremony for the Woods Sports Complex once COVID restrictions have lifted.