County school construction under way

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 5, 2003

New developments are fully under way for two Pike County School buildings and more improvements are in the making for others.

&uot;It's really important for us to pay attention to the way we look,&uot; Superintendent Mark Bazzell said.

&uot;We're blessed that we can afford to do this at this time.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It's been a long, long time coming.&uot;

The first priority was a new building at Goshen Elementary.

The new 14,000 square-foot building will house 11 classrooms, a classroom-sized computer lab, a teacher workroom and rest rooms. Each classroom will be 832 square-feet.

Bazzell said the building will be complete in 270 days, or about 9 months.

After completion, the sixth-graders who are now on the Goshen High School campus will be moved back to the elementary campus.

&uot;It will give uniformity in the grade structure throughout the system,&uot; Bazzell said.

The project was bumped to the top of the long list of things to do in order to eliminate portable classrooms, something former Gov. Don Siegelman was adamant about doing.

&uot;Monies being used to fund this project come from the 1998 bond issue specifically designed for the elimination of portable classrooms,&uot; Bazzell said.

The new building will eliminate 11 of the 13 portable classrooms throughout the school system. Construction crews will also expand Goshen Elementary's lunchroom which has &uot;needed additional space for quite some time.&uot;

Since the new building will include a new computer lab, the lab adjacent to the lunchroom will be incorporated to create a larger dining area.

Although Goshen Elementary was a top-priority project, it is nowhere near as involved as the renovations taking place at Pike County High School.

This project involves two different phases that will completely change the appearance of the school.

&uot;It is a reconfiguration of the entire front of the school,&uot; Bazzell said.

Phase one included the demolition of the old 1923 Brundidge Consolidated School. Crews are now preparing the site for the construction of a state-of-the-art 16,800 square-foot building that will house the Business and Finance Academy.

The building will house six 896 square-foot classrooms, a chemistry and biology lab that will average 2,500 square-feet, a 3,000 square-foot library and media center, a distance learning lab, a theatre-style classroom for multi-media presentations and rest rooms.

First National Bank of Brundidge partnered with the school system to offer a working bank for Business and Finance Academy students.

Bazzell said First National Bank will furnish the inside of the bank to resemble their other branches. The bank will service students and faculty.

&uot;It will really be a good service for students in our schools,&uot; Bazzell said. &uot;We have a lot of possibilities.&uot;

Bazzell would also like to see an insurance company partner with the school system to offer academy students more experience, but so far he has had no luck.

Some improvements included in phase one of construction included an improved sewer and water system, which Bazzell said has already been completed. A student parking lot near the gym, a faculty parking lot behind the gym and a road running between the gym and the football field will be built with the new building. The front drive will also change completely and a new visitors-only parking lot will be added.

&uot;What we are doing will really make a difference on appearance,&uot; Bazzell said.

The second phase will begin after phase one has completed, which will take around 300 days. The next phase involves the complete demolition of the existing two-story building, with the exception of the lunchroom.

The new building will be noticeably smaller than the current one. The two-story building is 28,000 square-feet, but the new building is anticipated to be only 1,800 square-feet.

But Bazzell said the board &uot;spent a lot of time calculating what our needs will be&uot; and the smaller size will work better.

In reality, no real space will be lost. The library and science labs will be in the phase one building along with additional classrooms and a computer lab.

&uot;I think we've got a good plan,&uot; Bazzell said.

&uot;Replacing the building made more sense than trying to renovate it.&uot;

Money from March's public sale of capital outlay warrants will fund these two labor-intensive projects. The improvements won't stop there, though.

Projects currently in the planning stage include making structural improvements to Pike County Elementary School and Banks Middle School.

Lighting in hallways and classrooms will also be upgraded and Goshen High School will receive a new coat of paint, floor coverings and new ceiling tiles.