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Groundbreaking on W.T. Lewis Wednesday signals start of parish’s Phase I school improvements

SGB/Yates artists rendering of additions at W.T. Lewis Elementary that begins construction Wednesday.
SGB/Yates artists rendering of additions at W.T. Lewis Elementary that begins construction Wednesday.

With the groundbreaking for new wings at W.T. Lewis Elementary School today, the Bossier Parish School System is embarking on its first phase of school construction and improvements.

“W.T. Lewis is one of our fastest growing schools and they are at capacity, so we had to do something there to provide some relief,” said Keith Norwood, supervisor of planning and construction.

According to a list compiled in 2012 by Norwood, W.T. Lewis is the ninth fastest growing school and lowest capacity school.

The system is one of the fastest growing public school districts in Louisiana, resulting in record student enrollment. To address the rapid growth across Bossier Parish, voters approved a $210 million bond referendum in April 2012 to build new schools and improve existing ones, better positioning Bossier Schools for the present and future and offering students a desirable learning environment.

“We have two months during the summer to tear everything up and put it all back together before school starts,” said Norwood.

SGB and Yates joined forces as a joint venture to provide Program Management for the BPSB’s 10 year—$210,000,000 bond program. Services include assessment of existing schools; space programming and preliminary design of new schools and additions; creating a master cost and construction schedule; estimating the cost of each project and construction monitoring.

“We wanted to get projects started as soon as possible to show good intent and wise use of the money,” said Norwood. “We were worried inflation would eat into cost, but interest rates are so low we’ve advanced our bond sales. We’ve brought Haughton Middle and Airline a year closer to reality.”

He said disruption to the school once classes begin should be minimal and students will have designated routes for access to the playground and fire drills.

“The foundation work will be done during the summer, so most of the noise and disruption will be over. After school starts, the contractors will have to be respectful of our activities and mindful of noise levels and certain things will have to happen after hours,” said Norwood.

Bids are also out on the wing construction for W.T. Lewis and electrical upgrades for Bossier High School and Carrie Martin Elementary School. Kingston Elementary, Haughton Middle School, and Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) will bid around the first of the year.

And the school is moving a modular wing with 10 classrooms from Benton Elementary to Airline High School to accommodate for the impending construction.

Despite current and future headaches, Norwood is mindful that the growth is a good problem to have.

“I guess you could say that,” he laughed. “One of the reasons people want to live in Bossier is because of the schools. And once we put a school somewhere, it just grows so fast.”

To keep updated with the construction process, visit www.bossierschools2012.com. Program Manager SGB/Yates has created the site to share information and progress on the construction and renovation of Bossier Parish Schools with the community.

The list of Phase I construction projects include:

  • Airline High — New wings; office addition; office, media and restroom renovations.
    Budget: $22.65 million
  • Benton High/Middle — Ring road on north & east.
    Budget: $400,000
  • Benton Elementary — Paving and drainage.
    Budget: $680,000
  • Bossier High — Electrical, utility service, ceilings, and paint renovations.
    Budget: $3.4 million
  • Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) — New building, furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
    Budget: $21.6 million
  • Carrie Martin — New electrical service.
    Budget: $250,000
  • Cope Middle — New 12 room wing.
    Budget: $2.2 million
  • Greenacres Middle — New 12 room wing
    Budget: $2.2 million
  • Haughton High School — New wing, canopy, paving, and stadium drainage.
    Budget: $7.08 million
  • Haughton Middle School — New building.
    Budget: $33 million
  • Haughton South Elementary —
    Paving, Drainage, Gym Canopy, Convert M.S. to K-5
    Budget: $2.5 million
  • Kingston Elementary — New school.
    Budget: $16 million
  • Legacy Elementary — Paving.
    Budget: $240,000
  • Princeton — Paving.
    Budget: $400,000
  • T.L. Rodes & Platt Elementary Schools — Paving, traffic and parking improvements; land acquisition.
    Budget: $1.8 million
  • WT Lewis Elementary — Three, four-room wings
    Budget: $2.1 million
  • The parish has also included road improvements district-wide for new schools to a budget of $3 million. These include
  • Kingston Elementary — Turn lanes on Kingston Road, extension of Poydras Street.
  • BPSTIL — Extension of Town Lake Boulevard.
  • Haughton Middle School — Turn lanes on Hwy. 3227.
  • In addition, the school has budgeted $3 million for future school land sites at Kingston Elementary, BPSTIL, and Jepson.
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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.