3 of 4 new elementaries ready for occupancy

Construction of Big Spring's new elementary schools is reaching its final, furiously paced stages.During their Thursday meeting, Big Spring Independent School District trustees learned that three of the four new elementary campuses are “essentially” complete, while construction crews have adopted an “all hands on deck” approach to getting the fourth school ready for the start of the new school year.Jay Edwards of Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, who has served as lead architect of the construction project, told trustees that he has received certificates of occupancy for the new campuses at Washington, Marcy and Goliad elementaries. Those certificates mean the buildings have passed city inspection and school officials can begin moving in.With work basically done at those three sites, work crews have turned their attention to Moss Elementary, the last of the four new elementary campuses authorized by voters in the May 2010 bond election.Unlike the other three campuses, which were constructed adjacent to the schools they will replace, the old Moss building had to be demolished before its replacement could be erected.Jason Smith of Lee Lewis Construction said Moss is now a beehive of activity.“We have between 60 and 70 workers over there every day,” he told trustees. “Currently, they're working on the administration area, so you can start moving people in there sometime next week.”“We've made really good progress,” said John Givens, another Lee Lewis representative. “By focusing our efforts, we feel very confident in your people moving into Moss by the start of the school year.”The 2012-2013 school year begins Aug. 27.To celebrate the new campuses, school district officials will hold a series of ribbon cuttings Aug. 9, beginning at Moss and proceeding to Washington, Goliad and Marcy, in that order. The stop at Marcy will include a tour and a school board meeting, Superintendent Steven Saldivar said.“I can't really say enough about the work everybody's done on this project,” Saldivar said. “It's going to be a great thing for Big Spring and the school district to have these four new school buildings.”In other business, trustees approved:• A contract with Howard County to provide tax assessment and collection services for the school district.• Extended Saldivar's contract through the 2013-2014 school year.• Approved the following teacher hirings: Sarah Anderson, Moss special education; Michelle Howard, Moss third grade; Jimmy Edmondson, high school mathematics; Debra Schroeder, junior high math; Kassi Wash, Kentwood special education; Tonya Holmes, Marcy third grade; Loyce Ponce De Leon, junior high math; Jeanine Lee, junior high math; Tammy Allen, Marcy fifth grade; and Linda Stoner, Washington fifth grade.The school district still needs to fill 12 teacher vacancies before the start of the new school year, officials said.