Leader Blues

Saturday, March 22, 2008

TOP STORY > >Tax vote lets Cabot seek site for school

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The Cabot School Board is making plans for the district’s ninth elementary school, one of several construction projects that are moving forward after patrons approved a 3.9 mills increase March 11, bringing Cabot’s total to 39.9 mills.

The school board will take a bus tour April 2 to check potential locations for land to build the district’s newest elementary school. Construction for the estimated $11.4 million elementary is scheduled to begin in March 2009, just months before construction of Cabot Junior High North is scheduled for completion.

The new elementary will be located somewhere on the northwest side of Cabot to help reduce the student populations at Magness Creek and Ward Central Elementary Schools.

“Those are our largest elementary schools and the area in which we are still experiencing the most growth,” Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman said.

The district is working with the city and county to find a suitable location for the new campus, including traffic concerns, utility connections focusing on water and sewer service, as well as cost, the superintendent said.

“We need to make certain that the location is centralized to accommodate our most heavily populated areas while keeping in mind future growth potential,” he explained.

At a meeting of the buildings and grounds committee Wednesday, the committee reviewed a timeline for the district’s nine projects that have been approved by the state with the earliest construction projects beginning in May.

Of the nine projects that have been approved, four – installing heating and air conditioning units at the elementary schools, a new roof on Eastside Elementary, adding classrooms at Westside Elementary, and paving Stagecoach from the school driveway to Campground Road – will begin immediately, Thurman said.

The heating and air conditioning units will be installed in the physical-education facilities of all elementary schools except Magness Creek and Stagecoach, the only two elementaries already equipped with HVAC units.

The project, at a cost of $600,000, is scheduled to begin in May and be completed by October.

The reroof of Eastside Ele-mentary, a $200,000 project, will begin in June and be finished in August when school resumes.
Constructing four classrooms at Westside Elementary School will begin in July. This project, at a cost of $700,000, will be complete in June 2009.

Asphalting work at Stagecoach Elementary will begin in May and be complete by the start of the new school year.
The $11.6 million Cabot Junior High North should be completed in August 2009.

About 30 percent of the 134,000 square-foot campus’ concrete slab is complete, Assistant Superintendent Jim Dalton said during Tuesday’s school board meeting. Red steel will be seen going up after a few more pours, he said.

The new JHN will be rebuilt on the hill with facilities capable of holding 1,200 students. There will be 51,850 square feet of classrooms to meet the new building standards, increasing the classroom size by 100 square feet.

The design utilizes current parking and buildings. The vocational building, multi-purpose building and physical-education building were left intact after an electrical fire destroyed the rest of the eight-year-old school in 2006.

Once JHN is completed and those students are moved off the high school campus, major construction will begin on the high school’s new cafeteria/health, physical education and recreation (HPER) building.

“We discussed in detail the problems with starting construction on the cafeteria/HPER before Junior High North was completed. Basically, with architect time lines, we can’t start the major construction until the summer of 2009,” Thurman said.

“This is really good since we need to move the seventh, eighth and ninth graders off the campus before beginning such a major project in the center of the campus,” he said.

In the meantime, Thurman said some minor adjustments might be made for the estimated $13 million facility before next summer.

“We may do some minor dirt work, but we are going to avoid bring heavy machinery into that campus with the junior high students occupying the primary staging areas,” he said.

The district is completing specifications for the cafeteria/HPER building and still have at least six months of architectural work before they could begin the bidding process, Thurman said.

“We want to make sure that we have the most cost effective facilities that will meet our needs for many years,” he added.
Other Cabot projects that have been approved by the state include installing accessible bleachers at the stadium under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in March 2009, remodeling the high school media building for ROTC in June 2009, and remodeling the old high school cafeteria to accommodate the agriculture department in June 2011.

Projects awaiting state approval include installing HVAC units in campus kitchens, estimated to begin in June 2009; updating the science labs at Cabot Junior High South, slated for July 2009, and constructing a permanent charter-school facility, scheduled for August 2009.