The Calhoun County Board of Education approved the estimated $4 million project last week as part of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Superintendent Joe Dyar said the board has talked with three architects about the project but members haven’t discussed full plans for the new addition.
“It’s about building a modern space that’ll best serve our students,” Dyar said. “This will bring them into the 21st century and challenge them.”
Dyar said the addition will include a science lab, computer lab, new choir room and 12 classrooms. The ball started rolling on the project a year and a half ago when officials sought approval for it from a federal judge. Dyar said officials provided evidence that the 60-year-old school needed larger, modern classrooms.
“Structurally, the building is safe,” Dyar said. “But it needs modernization to best cater to the needs of our students.”
Ohatchee High Principal Bobby Tittle said space has been a continuing problem because the building was originally used as an elementary school.
“Classroom size is an issue,” Tittle said. “Also, things like water fountains are a problem, too.”
Tittle said the biggest improvement will be a new choir room for a program that has grown considerably for the last several years.
“It’s gone from good to great,” Tittle said, estimating more than 100 students participate in choir. “We have a new director and the program has just grown tenfold.”
The planned construction will be the first for Calhoun County Schools since White Plains Middle School was built in 2009.
“Generally, we’ve been pretty aggressive about building projects,” said Dyar.
He said that since 2000, school officials have expanded the buildings of Ohatchee, White Plains and Pleasant Valley elementary schools.
Tittle said the Ohatchee project has no timetable for when it’s expected to get underway or be completed, but said he expects the community to get behind the project.
“I know for me, my staff, my students, we’re all very excited about this,” Tittle said. “I think this is something our community will take pride in, and be excited to see get underway and use when completed.”
The board is set to discuss Ohatchee High’s addition during a work session at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The Calhoun County School Board on Wednesday also approved a contract with Anniston-based Eugene Turner General Contractor for fire damage renovation at Saks High School. The $455,000 contract is part of the $1.5 million allocated to cleaning and renovating part of the building, which burned during a June electrical fire. School officials expect the renovation to be finished by the middle of the month.
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.