Construction begins on new middle school wings

Michelle Stuckey
April 15, 2011 at 9:31 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

An artist’s rendering of what the new Harry Hurst wing will look like when completed. Construction on the new wing began last week.
Courtesy Photo
An artist’s rendering of what the new Harry Hurst wing will look like when completed. Construction on the new wing began last week.
Construction has begun on the two wing expansions that will allow Harry Hurst and J.B. Martin middle schools to expand to include 6th grade.

The new wings are on schedule to be used beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, according to John Rome, director of physical plant services for the school district.

“Both wings are slated to be completed in the spring of 2012,” Rome said. “This will allow the District time to complete the finishing touches such as the installation of technology and furnishings.”

Each school will have about 300 more students when the projects are complete for a total of about 750 students at Hurst and 850 at J.B. Martin. Hurst will absorb 6th graders from Ethel Schoeffner Elementary and Norco 4-6 Elementary, while 6th grade students from Lakewood Elementary in Luling and R.J. Vial Elementary in Paradis will attend J.B. Martin Middle.

After completion, all parish middle schools will hold grades 6 through 8 and all elementary schools will house kindergarten through 2nd grades or 3rd through 5th grades. While some upper elementary schools will be losing their 6th grade student population, they will also be absorbing 3rd grade so their enrollment numbers should stay about the same. But elementary schools that are losing 3rd grade students will have a significant drop in enrollment that will lead to the elimination of about 42 portable buildings, which is part of the district’s goals.

The two-story wings are the first that the school district has built in almost 10 years and will house special features, such as computer, science and art labs. Other features include polished concrete floors that will require less maintenance, and automatic shut-off lights and stairwells that are lit by solid glass windows to save on utility costs. All classrooms in the building will also be wired to accommodate a projector or Promethean Board.

At Hurst, the construction of the wing costs about $4.9 million and includes 24 new classrooms. At J.B. Martin, construction costs were around $6.4 million and include 32 classrooms.

During the bidding process, 12 companies placed a bid for the Hurst project and 11 bid for the J. B. Martin project.
Rome said those are the most bids for a single project that the school district has received in almost six years.

“Right after Katrina, we were getting two, three or four bids per project, but the highest I can remember that we’ve received since then was in the eight range,” Rome said. “To actually have 12 people submit a bid is the highest we’ve had since Katrina.”

The first floor slab has been poured at Hurst already and the contractor expects to start erecting the steel structure of the building within the next few weeks, Rome said. The pouring of the first floor slab at J.B. Martin has been scheduled for this month.

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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