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Russellville City Schools announces plans to purchase Mars Hill campus

When Mars Hill announced the closing of its Russellville pre-school branch in October, the future of the students and the building seemed uncertain. Now four months later, the future has a little more certainty as Russellville City Schools announced it is purchasing the building.

The building, located at 1509 Lawrence St., in Russellville, includes nine classrooms and a basement, which will be renovated. The facility is slated to be used as the new home of Russellville Pre-K, moving it from its current location at West Elementary School.

“This helps us provide not only additional pre-school education for our community, but it also allows us the chance for additional expansion at West,” said Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes.

Grimes said West Elementary School is in need of additional space, and moving the Pre-K classes will free up three classrooms, while allowing for three additional Pre-K classes to be added at the new Mars Hill location.

Grimes said this will save Russellville City Schools almost $2 million in what it would have cost to add six classrooms to West Elementary School.

RCS participates in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Program. Grimes said RCS will be applying for grants to help add the three additional Pre-K classes.

There are currently 54 students enrolled in Russellville’s pre-school program, but the new location will allow for 108 students to be enrolled.

“I feel like the single-most important thing that we can do is allowing more students the opportunity for Pre-K,” Grimes said.

Grimes said a lot went into the process of determining if Russellville City Schools wanted to make a bid on the building, including organizing a tour with the Alabama Secretary of Early Childhood Education and Rep. Jamie Kiel to assess the building.

Grimes said the Russellville City Council has also been a great partner in helping secure the building.

The Mars Hill location is located three miles from West Elementary. Grimes said the new location will not require a change in bus routes because the school does not bus in Pre-K students.

Grimes said Russellville City Schools has reached an agreement with Mars Hill concerning the price of the building, but the price is not public because it has not been finalized yet.

Mars Hill Pre-School will close at the end of the 2019-20 school year. Russellville City Schools plans to have all of the Pre-K classes in the new building for the 2020-21 school year.