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Rural District Passes Bond and Restores Historic School Building

Proposition Whippets: Restore History and Plan for the Future

Rural school districts often face unique challenges when updating their facilities. With older buildings and more limited budgets, the normal struggles of navigating school construction projects can become more difficult to contend with. In addition, being located far from large population centers can make it more difficult to source qualified contractors.

Southern Reynolds County R-II School District, located in Ellington, Missouri (125 miles south of St. Louis) faced this scenario. The district was focused on improving student learning environments, furthering community engagement, and becoming future-ready. Beyond these priorities, the district’s number one goal was to deliver a project of excellence – building and restoring trust with the Ellington community.

For this round of facility improvements, the district decided to find a consultative partner to support them throughout the process. “We knew what we wanted to accomplish and felt that a supportive, experienced partner could help us more effectively achieve our goals,” says Superintendent Paula King.

Ultimately, Southern Reynolds chose Schneider Electric, which has done extensive work with school districts across Missouri and the Midwest region, as its project partner.

Finding the funding by understanding the community

The district's leadership knew obtaining funding would be their first challenge to overcome. Due to the extensive nature of improvements needed, the district planned to raise $6 million through a bond referendum. The only way that could happen was with a supportive community. In addition to the funding from the referendum, the district will also realize $25K in annual utility cost savings created by the upgrades from the energy performance contract. 

Southern Reynolds County R-II School District includes three buildings: elementary school, a combined middle school and high school, and the historic Rock Building. This 90-year-old facility once served as the sole school building for the district, but the one-time mainstay of the Southern Reynolds School District would need repairs to once again become a functioning space for students. Generations of Ellington residents felt an emotional and nostalgic connection to the facility, so the district’s leaders knew it was a great place to focus their efforts.

The district went to work engaging the community, including holding an information session at the Rock Building prior to the vote about the plan and its long-term benefits to students. The bond eventually passed in April of 2022 with overwhelming support, with over 80% voting in favor.

Developing a scope that strengthens student success and district financials

The district leaned on Schneider Electric to source knowledgeable contractors from their extensive network of qualified partners.

When determining their project scope, the Southern Reynolds County R-II School District wanted a far-reaching plan that impacted students, staff, and community members. The district already had exciting ideas and priorities in mind, and they turned to Schneider Electric for assistance in creating a more comprehensive project scope that achieved these aims.

The scope of work included installing new LED lighting. The old lights were dim, generated heat, and required frequent maintenance. LED lighting is a brighter, more modern alternative that encourages better outcomes in the classroom. LED lights also have financial benefits. Because they use less energy, last longer, and produce no heat, they create big reductions in utility and maintenance costs.

The project scope also included improvements to HVAC systems and building envelopes. The newly installed roofs and double-pane windows, together with improved HVAC, makes their school buildings better at maintaining room temperatures. The regulated temperature means students are more comfortable and better able to focus on their studies. With less air escaping and entering the building, the district’s energy costs have been reduced significantly. All together, these upgrades will reduce the district’s utility usage by 20%.

Restoring history, planning for the future

"Our small and supportive community graciously supported our bond referendum by an overwhelming 80%. Our biggest concern was that the project would fall short of expectations and damage the trust we had worked so hard to build. I can confidently say that we have not only met these expectations but also exceeded them – largely in part to Schneider Electric’s construction management, ability to hold our contractors accountable, and work through all the challenges that naturally arise during large construction projects.” - Superintendent Paula King

With construction completed in October 2023, the leadership of Southern Reynolds School District are already hearing positive comments from the community. Their partnership with Schneider Electric has helped this proud district restore its history, plan for its future, and create better learning environments for its students.

Schneider Electric helps school districts tackle their top priorities with energy efficiency and funding solutions. To learn more visit: