Center ISD wastes no time in putting bond funds to work for multiple projects

Centerpiece of projects should be new multi-purpose performing arts center

A major transformation is taking place within Center ISD that should continue for at least the next three years.

The five months since Center Independent School District voters approved a $30 million bond issue package have been busy ones for the district's administrators and school board.

Supt. Dr. James Hockenberry said details of carrying out the bond have been divided into seven phases which will be carried out in different sequences over the next three years.

District officials have been meeting regularly with architects, construction manager, contractors and others involved in implementing the projects touching about every campus and district property in some way.

“This has all been developed since the bond passed on May 5th,” he said.

“What is so unique about this bond is that there are so many pieces involved that every campus is affected and many, many departments affected,” Hockenberry said. “There will be a point in time where you can go to every campus in the school district and there will be work taking place.”

He expects it will take three years to complete all phases of work included in the bond package. Hockenberry is planning to hold a “state of the district” type of public meeting in coming weeks to go over plans and answer questions the public might have about the construction process.

“What triggered this is that we've been discussing for several years the need to realign our grade levels,” Hockenberry said. “What that means, based on research and our own observations, is that to optimize learning in this community we really need our pre-K, K and (grades) 1 and 2 teachers to be together.”

Then combining grade three, four and five together will help the learning process.

“Our current arrangement does not accommodate that,” he said. “We saw an opportunity and that's what we're doing with these projects.”

There are seven phases included with work which recently started on the elementary campus identified as Phase A.

“It is parking lot and driveway expansion,” he said. “The intent is obviously to add more parking and move as much traffic as possible off of Roughrider Drive.”

Currently traffic goes into and out of parking at the school at the same entry point. When the work is completed traffic will go in and out of the campus at different locations to improve traffic flow.

“We're adding 75 new parking spaces,” Hockenberry said. The elementary campus was opened in the 2009-2010 school year.

“Traffic has been an issue since then and we feel this will provide a lot of relief,” he said. “It addition there will be a new and additional canopy to the front of the school.”

Currently about 80 percent of the area where buses drop off and pick up students is covered with a canopy, Hockenberry said.

“We're going to extend our cover in the back all the way to the third grade wing,” he said. The district has purchased about 10.6 acres of property off of Roughrider Drive with frontage on Roughrider Drive. Hockenberry said the property wraps around two homes and connects with the current Center Elementary campus.

A key piece of the puzzle of combining grade levels to enhance education for Center students will be the remodeling and expansion of the F.L. Mofffett campus, he said.

“We are getting very close to be able to go out for proposals on that, we're in the design phase right now,” Hockenberry said. “We're adding two new wings with 30 classrooms plus amenities.”

For complete story, please see this week's edition of The Light and Champion available at news racks and stores throughout Shelby County beginning late Wednesday afternoon.