Wing added to new high school

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 3/29/16

The new Walker High School will have an additional wing, as approved by the Jasper City Schools Board of Education Monday night. The move is the beginning of a plan to consolidate schools within the district.

Excluding the wing addition, the new Walker High School is still on track to be completed in September.

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Wing added to new high school

Posted

The new Walker High School will have an additional wing, as approved by the Jasper City Schools Board of Education Monday night. The move is the beginning of a plan to consolidate schools within the district.

Excluding the wing addition, the new Walker High School is still on track to be completed in September.

Recent accomplishments at the school include the completion of gym walls, the auditorium’s tiered seating and shingle roofing. In addition, the entire building has been bricked except for a small portion of the auditorium.

Almost all classrooms on the building’s first floor have been painted, and ceiling grid and hard ceiling installation is ongoing. Flooring is being laid and significant progress has been made to the parking lot and curbs surrounding the building.

The school softball field’s backstop poles have been set, and work has been done on the dugouts and press box structure.

Upcoming projects include configuration of the south parking lot and road, flooring the building’s south end, painting, doors and hardware installation, sidewalk scaping, ceiling framework at the auditorium, cafeteria and gyms and installation of HVAC units at the gyms.

The project still has an overall contingency of $605,528.83, and the new wing addition came at a cost of $2,141,439.

A 90-day time extension has been given to complete the wing, and Project Manager Trent Hall of Hoar Program Management said while the rest of the building should be complete in late September, the additional wing is scheduled to be finished in November.

The new wing will bring a 12,500 square foot addition to the school and an additional 11 classrooms.

Schools to consolidate

The decision to add another wing to the new Walker High School is “all economics,” Jasper City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson said, adding that the new wing will house the district’s 7th, 8th and 9th grade students, while students in grades 10-12 will occupy the other classrooms in the new school.

“The building, as it is now, will hold 1,200 students,” Jackson said. “We initially thought that the middle school would move to the old Walker High School; however, when we have looked at what we were expecting to pay in maintenance and utilities, with the new school we cannot afford to keep six buildings open. So we will close the [current] high school.”

She continued, “Nothing of significance has been done to the current high school. We have just been putting Bandaids on, so in order to really get that school up to par, we would have to spend a lot of money and still not really have anything to show for it.”

While students in grades 9-12 are scheduled to move into the new high school in January 2017, 7th and 8th graders from Maddox will not move into the building until the fall of 2017.

More significant changes will take effect in the 2017-18 school year, as well.

West Jasper Elementary School will close, and the remaining elementary schools and Maddox Middle School will be reconfigured according the grade level.

Jackson says Pre-K through 1st grade students will go to T.R. Simmons Elementary and 2nd and 3rd graders will be at Memorial Park Elementary. Students in 4th, 5th and 6th grades will go to Maddox Middle School and all 7th through 12th graders will be at the new high school.

In addition, the current North Highlands School building will close, and those students will move into a room at the new high school, which is being specifically designed for students with special needs.

School operations will continue, as normal, for the next school year, beginning this fall.

“It’s all economics, what we can afford, and we’ve looked at different options to offset some of the expenses, and this is our best option,” Jackson said, adding that having more students in the new high school will be beneficial to the district, citing the two storm shelters in the new school.

She said the three-tiered approach with T.R. Simmons, Memorial Park and Maddox, combined with the new high school, will provide more opportunity for growth in the district.