Watson: school move delayed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2013

Construction of a new sixth-grade wing at Andalusia Elementary School should be complete by spring.

Construction of a new sixth-grade wing at Andalusia Elementary School should be complete by spring.

Andalusia students entering the sixth grade next fall can begin looking forward to their new classrooms at Andalusia Elementary School, but Superintendent Ted Watson said Wednesday, seventh and eighth graders are likely facing one more semester in their current location.

Watson said construction on the new sixth-grade wing at AES is right on track, while the additions that will house seventh and eighth graders at Andalusia High School may not be ready until 2015.

“The wings are being built, and the elementary sixth-grade portion is progressing on schedule,” Watson said. “We are looking at completion around March or April, which is pretty much what we expected.”

Watson said the additions to AHS have seen a moderate delay because of summer rain, adding the weather may have been enough to push the move from Andalusia Middle School back a full semester.

“Construction at the high school is coming along nicely,” Watson said. “The original date before all of the rain was August 6. Now, we may be looking to mid to late August. It may be just a more practical move to wait and make the transition in January of 2015.”

Watson said delaying the move will likely make the transition easier on students and teachers alike.

“That may make it easier to acclimate the students and teachers to their new surroundings, instead of trying to move a little here and there,” he said. “We’ll try to do some things to the new facility, and take our time and be a little more deliberate in our actions.”

Watson said construction, as well as other additions, at AHS are also in the works, including “90-plus cameras” that are expected to be functional as soon as this week.

“That’s all part of the safe school situation,” he said. “We’ve had cameras on campus before. We had to go back and revisit them and see which ones are working and which are not. The price of cameras have come down, so we were able to add some more.”

Watson said the school added around 60 surveillance cameras to the school’s existing “30-or-so” cameras that were already in place. Watson added the cameras, which carried a price tag of “less than $20,000,” will perform the dual role of monitoring behavior and providing added safety measures for students and teachers.

In addition to the cameras, Watson said two “safe rooms” are being constructed at AHS.

“We have two areas – one downstairs in the main portion of the school, and one around the cafeteria,” he said.

Watson said the rooms, which feature eight-inch concrete walls with rebarb, will act as a shelter during storms. The rooms were paid for using grants procured from FEMA.

Watson said, while the rooms were planned with inclement weather in mind, they are an added bonus for safety measures in other situations. In recent years, Watson said magnetic doors have also been added at both AHS and AES.

At AHS, Watson said other construction includes a re-roofing project that is currently underway.