BSISD trustees to hear status of construction projects

Big Spring Independent School District trustees will get an update on ongoing construction projects around the district when they hold their monthly meeting at 5:15 p.m. Thursday in the high school board room.The construction, funded by a $60 million bond approved by voters in May 2010, will result in four new elementary schools and significant renovations at the high school and junior high.To use a racing analogy, the projects aren't exactly at the finish line yet, but they've definitely reached the home stretch.The first project that was checked off the to-do list was renovation of the junior high. Work there involved adding classroom space to house the school district's sixth graders and was completed prior to the start of the 2011-2012 school year.After that, the majority of attention shifted to construction of the new elementary campuses, which took the lion's share — $48 million — of the bond money. Interior work on three of the four new schools — Washington, Goliad and Marcy — is completed, said Wayland Pierce, who has overseen the construction work for the school district. The fourth campus, Moss Elementary, should be ready for teachers and staff to begin moving in their equipment sometime next week, Pierce added.Work on the new elementaries took approximately 14 months.“It's been almost miraculous that the contractors were able to pull all of this off in 14 months,” Pierce said of the pace of construction. “And the credit for that goes to (construction manager) Lee Lewis and his people. They've done an outstanding job.”All four campuses will open as scheduled when the new school year begins Aug. 27, although landscaping and other exterior work will continue for some time.“The drought is delaying a lot of our landscaping plans for at least a year,” Pierce said. “Parking lots should be done by the end of the month, but landscaping will be ongoing for awhile. I hope to sit down with the landscaper in the next few days and hash out a schedule in the next few days, but I don't want to even hazard a guess as to when work will be complete.”The final major construction project is at the high school, which is receiving a new roof and science labs, as well as expansion of the fine arts wing.“We are probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 percent complete on work on the roof,” Pierce said, adding that no classroom interruption is expected from that portion of the renovation. The science labs, on the other hand, are expected to be checked off today, with teachers moving their equipment in sometime next week.Meanwhile, the fine arts wing expansion will carry over well into the new school year.“We hope to have that completed by the end of February of next year,” Pierce said.After work is completed at the high school, only minor projects, such as additional parking spaces at the junior high and administration building, remain on the to-do list, but Pierce said work there hasn't even reached the planning stages yet.In other business Thursday, trustees will:• Hear reports on bus stops and crosswalks, key communicators, the district's Facebook page and the First Tee National School program.• Consider donations, policy updates, bids, approval of the student code of conduct, and employee recommendations.