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Airline renovates

Work is being done Monday afternoon on the Airline High School cafeteria as part of a million-dollar summer renovation. It is part of a much larger construction project that will eventually seen new classroom wings, administrative offices, and library.

Work underway on summer projects for high school

When Airline High School students start back in the fall, they will be welcomed back with a facelift.

The school is currently undergoing renovations to the cafeteria, restrooms, auditorium, and outdoor canopy.

“It’s a matter of trying to get something started ahead of the main project. We took out several items to make a summer project so we can get work started sooner and give some areas a facelift,” said Keith Norwood, supervisor for planning and construction of Bossier Parish Schools.

The school is due for a massive, three-story classroom wing expansion in early 2015.

“We still have a very aggressive timetable for getting those projects designed. We moved some immediate projects to where students and community can appreciate it,” said Keith Norwood, supervisor for planning and construction of Bossier Parish Schools.

Work began on the project last week. It is expected to cost $1.239 million.

“Summer being only two months, the restrooms and cafeteria will need to be completed by the first week in August. The auditorium will need to be completed by the first weekend in September,” said Norwood.

The $22.65 million planned expansion of the largest high school in Bossier Parish calls for a multi-phase approach.  An initial phase to refurbish restrooms and the auditorium is planned to start this summer.  This phase will include construction of the new F wing then the new E wing.  The last phase is anticipated to be renovations to the Administration, Media, Lobby and Art wing (C wing).

“We’re still discussing the phasing to see if we can do it in one phase or two,” said Norwood. “It also includes a complete renovation of the library and administration areas.”

The expansion is sorely needed. According to parish numbers, a three-year growth trend has Airline as the fastest growing school in the parish. On average, AHS averages gaining 60 students per year.

“That’s two or three classrooms per year,” explained Norwood.

As of Oct. 1, 2013 BPSB enrollment numbers showed Airline housed 1,758 students. The renovation project will make space for 2,000 students.

What makes the numbers more startling is taking the schools efficiency into account. Airline has combined class spaces to allow for multiple classes being taught in the same space, bringing their efficiency level up to 70 percent — a very high level for high schools.

“That tells me they are at their capacity,” Norwood explained.

The construction is all part of a $210 million bond issue approved by voters in 2012. The project has already seen the completion of new wings at W.T. Lewis Elementary and construction begin on Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL).

Work has also begun on building a road to the new Kingston Elementary School and construction is due to start late next year on the other major project, the new Haughton Middle School.

Norwood also noted the BPSB has obtained three pieces of land around the parish for future development with an eye towards continued growth.

“I’m in favor of acquiring more. It’s not going to get any cheaper,” said Norwood.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.