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Ozark School District Breaks Ground on Tiger Paw, Innovation Center

May 11 was an exciting day for Ozark School District as School Board members and administrators donned hard hats, picked up shovels and officially broke ground on two projects: Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center and the Ozark Innovation Center. 

“Not only is it about us investing in the future of our youngest learners, but it’s also about investing in our high schoolers. We’re so excited about this project,” Dr. Chris Bauman said during the ceremony. 

The expansion of Tiger Paw and renovation of the Innovation Center to become an extension of the high school campus is part of the District’s Long Range Plan and made possible when voters approved a $26.5 million no-tax-increase bond issue in June 2020.

The event kicked off in front of Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center, where renovations have been underway since last summer. Recently, the District completed Phase One, which included demolition, bringing the historic uilding to its bare structure so architects and engineers could better assess the structural enhancements needed for the building.

“We are excited about the fact that this building originally went into service in August of 1922, and when we get this project finished on time, in August of 2022, it will be on the building’s 100th anniversary,” School Board President Tom Bass said at the Tiger Paw groundbreaking ceremony. “I’d like to thank our patrons and our voters, who without their support and their vote we would not have had the bond issue that has allowed us to take care of this project and turn this building back into the wonderful facility that it was in its past.”

Tiger Paw Director Dr. Laura Eakins said the expansion will allow 200 more students to attend the preschool. 

“It allows our learners to really see how education benefits them and allows them to grow and build that strong foundation for kindergarten success and beyond,” she said.

The event then moved to the Ozark Innovation Center, which is also rich in history, known fondly in the Ozark community as the old Fasco building. 

“So many of you who know anything about the history of Ozark know that the Fasco facility has been a huge part of Ozark and its history. And to me, one of the most exciting things is this place is going to become such a huge part of our future,” Bauman said.

Ozark High School Principal Jeremy Brownfield said he is proud to work in a district with a vision focused on preparing students for future readiness. 

“We want our graduates to be college and career ready, but this facility really will allow them to be future-ready graduates. It will allow them to come back to Ozark and be the future business leaders and community leaders that we want them to be,” Brownfield said. “We’ve already started preparing some of our programming and we can’t wait to move into the facility. It’s going to be a great place for learning.”

Phase One of the Innovation Center is just now starting, with exterior enhancement to the building such as reinforcing exterior walls to meet updated building regulations for wind loads; installing skylights to bring natural light throughout the building; and upgrading the exterior shell of the building. Bids for Phase One have been secured and we are currently finalizing construction documents. Exterior enhancements will begin this summer.

Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center groundbreaking
Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center
Ozark Innovation Center Groundbreaking
Ozark Innovation Center