School construction update ahead of 2015-16 school year

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Construction projects at several Bossier schools are on schedule to be completed by the first day of school despite a wetter than usual spring season.

Two new schools will open their doors to students after construction crews worked around the clock this summer to makeup for lost time due to the weather. Paving projects at other schools are also wrapping up while construction continues at the new middle school site in Haughton.

Bossier Parish Schools is in the third year of a $210 million construction program approved by parish voters in April 2012. Project Manager Clarence Babineaux of SGB and Yates, the firm contracted by Bossier Schools to manage its 10-year construction program, said a lot of work has happened in a short amount of time to get projects back on track and finished by the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Kingston Elementary School

An official ribbon cutting ceremony for Kingston Elementary will be held Tuesday, Aug. 4. Babineaux said there is still some exterior work to do, but the school will be open Aug. 10.

“We are ready to go on Kingston,” Babineaux told the Bossier School board’s building and grounds committee.

Construction of Kingston Elementary began in late November 2014. Designed to help relieve overcrowding at Legacy and Benton Elementary Schools, the new facility will be designed to meet those growth needs by accommodating 1,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

Due to the large number of students and to reduce the perceived size of the building, the Bossier Schools website states that two grades will be paired for each of the upper elementary wings (2nd and 3rd and 4th and 5th) with kindergarten and first grade each having their own eight-room wing or “house.” Kindergarten and first grade rooms will also be situated closest to the front door and administration to better improve the younger child’s sense of security.

The wings and all support components – administration, library, cafeteria, gym, art/music/computer labs – are organized along a “main street” to simplify understanding of the building layout.

Babineaux said a crosswalk has been painted on Kingston Road. However, Superintendent D.C. Machen said bus transportation will be provided to students who are within the one-mile walking distance from the school due to the amount of traffic on the roadway.

“Since it is not within the city limits, we do not use the same resources as the city crossing guards,” Machen explained. “We’re investigating the feasibility of having a crossing guard there anyway.”

Keith Norwood, Supervisor of Planning and Construction for Bossier Schools, said they have been in contact with the parish about installing sidewalks along Kingston Road. Norwood told the committee that one is planned for south Kingston (from the apartments to St. Charles Court), but was put on hold because the sewer installation was delayed.

BPSTIL

As its name implies, technology and innovation are at the forefront when it comes to the Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL).

Positioned off I-220 and Swan Lake Road, the 110,000 square feet facility will be centrally located for easy access by our students throughout the parish. Its exterior and interior design will be as innovative as the curriculum. The two-wing design, linked by a court yard, will include an extensive culinary arts department, banquet facilities, a student-run bistro and outdoor dining.

Babineaux said work crews have been greatly impacted by 178 days of rain this year, which is 104 days more than normal.

“Given all that rain, they have worked very long hours over the past few weeks – double shifts, late nights and weekends,” Babineaux said. “They are getting there. There are probably 100 to 125 people working on site right now at any given time to make sure its open on time.”

Machen added that while the interior will be done, there is still exterior work to finish. One of those big projects is a parking lot.

“There is parking already there and we don’t anticipate there being any problems,” Machen said.

Babineaux clarified that there are plenty of parking spaces for students, faculty and visitors at the school on day one.

This new school will allow Bossier Schools to expand course offerings in the Department of Education’s Career Clusters, giving high school students the opportunity to explore various fields of interest as well as accrue college credit and industry certifications. Machen said they anticipate anywhere from 300 to 500 students to occupy BPSTIL during the course of a school day.

Haughton Middle School

Bossier Schools is in the process of building its first three-story middle school.

The new Haughton Middle School is designed to accommodate a rapidly growing student population in the eastern part of Bossier Parish. Built for 1,500 students in sixth through eighth grades, Haughton Middle School will include a large, centrally located commons/dining area with its academic wing and athletic facilities, including a gym with bleacher seating for 1,000 with the capability for additional bleacher and floor seating.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in February 2015, but poor weather conditions delayed work.

“There’s some progress being made, but there has been a lot of rain,” Babineaux said. “They’ve got a lot of work left to go.”

Due to delays, contract work is now said to be completed in September or October of 2016, later than what was originally projected. The initial plan was to have the school ready to open at the start of the 2016 school year.

Babineaux said there have been discussions as to whether or not crews can makeup for lost time, but he said that decision is ultimately based on future weather conditions.

“It’s still early and I never say never,” Babineaux told the school board committee. “If we get a really dry winter, it may change. We have to depend on the weather at this point.”

Airline High School

Work began at Airline High School at the end of March and is about seven-percent complete.

Airline’s existing E and F wings will be replaced by two new three-story classroom wings, a state-of-the-art media center and library and renovated administrative area and front entrance. The two-phase construction project will allow the school to accommodate a projected population of 2,000 students.

An initial phase to refurbish restrooms, the auditorium, the cafeteria and a new outdoor dining commons is finished. Construction has already started on the new F wing, which will then be followed by the new E wing along with renovations to the Administration, Media & Lobby.

Work is projected to be completed in the summer of 2017.

“They have been working in the same rain conditions, but the advantage they have is they only have one wing to do as opposed to an entire school and they have a parking lot leading right up to the edge of the construction site,” Babineaux said. “Their schedule is about five weeks ahead, which is excellent news.”

Paving Projects

Several paving projects are also nearing completion.

T. L. Rodes and Platt Elementary schools have received improvements to parking and traffic flow on their campus, as well as at Princeton Elementary, Legacy Elementary and Benton Elementary. – Traffic & Parking Improvements

“We’ve had some great weather lately and they are moving along quite well,” Babineaux said.