Construction starts at SES

Published 1:12 am Friday, October 28, 2016

Contractors break ground at SES on the new addition.

Contractors break ground at SES on the new addition.

Expected completion in July 2017

Construction on the new early learning center at Straughn Elementary School is under way.

Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said that contracts were signed on Monday and that they started breaking ground at the site on Wednesday.

In September, the board of education awarded the low bid to Diversified General Contractors, who bid around $1.8 million.

At the meeting, Driver said they had budgeted $1.6 million to $1.7 million for the addition and were working with architect Walter McKee to get the cost down on the building.

Driver said then, they would not do anything to compromise the building with any modifications that were to be made.

Driver said Thursday, they were able to get the cost of the building down to roughly $1.7 million.

The new building will house pre-K and kindergarten with eight classrooms on the backside of the elementary school.

Driver said the goal – barring any unforeseen weather patterns – is to have the project completed in July 2017.

“It’s a tight deadline,” he said. “But everyone is working toward that so we can utilize the facility at the start of next school year.”

Additionally, the building will be a FEMA storm shelter.

In June, McKee presented plans to the board that gave them two options for storm shelters – one in which they would only include the storm shelter in a corridor and could only house 300 students or make the entire structure with 12-inch thick walls and be able to house 1,000 students.

Driver said they ultimately decided to make the entire structure a storm shelter.

Board members and Principal Bettye Anne Older had struggled with the smaller scale option because it would put administrators and teachers in the position of having to choose which students would be able to be in the safe room.

SES had an average daily membership of 596 students, an increase of 58 from last year and Straughn Middle School has roughly 285 students, down about 21 from last year.

Driver said they are excited about the new facility.

Older agreed.

“We’ve really been excited,” she said. “We’ve been telling everyone it’s coming and now everyone can see it’s a reality. When the contractors showed up with the heavy equipment the kids were mesmerized. The space is cleared and ready to go.”

Older said that she wanted parents to know that the contractor is going to place a security fence around the construction site and that construction will not interfere with morning and afternoon traffic flow at the school.

“The contractors will not come and go during our morning drop off period or afternoon release,” she said. “During the day, they will be coming and going a lot, but we shouldn’t have anyone using that area during that time.”