A five-year, $89 million construction program that will change the face of the Quincy School District got a fitting send-off at last week's ground-breaking for a new Monroe School.
Wearing yellow hard hats, students from Monroe sang during the ceremony and cheered on the operator of an excavating machine who turned the first load of soil at the site where a new school will rise. Some of the younger students may still be attending Monroe when the building is ready for use in 2017.Importantly, more than a year after Quincy voters resoundingly approved a bond issue to build five new, state-of-the-art elementary schools and upgrade the high school and other sites, the massive project is on track. Last week's ground-breaking was among the first of many milestones to be reached.The new school at the Monroe site will be a prototype for four other elementary schools that will be built in coming years. One school will be at the current site of Baldwin Intermediate School, while another will be at 30th and Locust on a 20-acre tract donated by ADM Nutrition Alliance. Two other K-5 sites are being sought.New schools will make Quincy a more attractive destination for people being recruited by local businesses. Young couples will see this as a good place to raise a family, thanks to good schools and a strong business climate.Business recruiters will have new selling points, touting a community that has the confidence to invest in its future and the future of its schoolchildren.Moreover, an estimate is that 1,400 jobs will be created during the district's construction campaign. By staggering work on the various school buildings, more of those jobs will be local. That will benefit the local economy because workers will spend their wages on housing, dining, vehicles and retail items here.In addition, construction workers already are busy upgrading and expanding parts of Quincy High School. Their work will add the space needed to handle ninth-graders, giving freshmen the full high school experience and curriculum they deserve as part of a district ?reorganization plan.Quincyans can now clearly see tangible evidence of the work they launched in an election 13 months ago, when voters wisely -- and resoundingly -- chose to invest in a project that ultimately will pay for itself many times over.Monroe School's ground-breaking ceremony was about more than a new building, though. Quincy's construction program will be transformative for the entire community for generations to come.Congratulations, Quincy, for creating an environment for a new era in education to unfold.