• A rendering of the new Mitchell Middle School. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
    A rendering of the new Mitchell Middle School. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

BOE updated about new middle school

LEDGER – The Mitchell County Board of Education at its regular meeting Thursday, July 11, received an update about the county’s new school project. 

Jim Hinton from Cope Architecture gave a presentation about the school’s progress and fielded questions from board members. Hinton said the project is currently in the schematic design phase, which he hopes will be completed by the end of this month. After that phase, the project will move into the design development phase, which Hinton said should wrap up by the end of September or early October. 

“Design development is when all of our major decisions are made,” Hinton said. “All of our options are decided, and we know what we want to do.”

Following design development, the project will progress into the construction documents phase, which is projected to be finished by early 2020. Hinton said if everything goes smoothly, the project could be fully permitted and ready to begin in February of 2020. 

Hinton also presented the results of the geotechnical report for the new school site. He said the groundwater level, while close to the anticipated measurement, might present small issues during construction. 

“When we get into construction and start digging, we might have some issues where groundwater has funneled in,” he said. “It’s more of a construction issue than it is a long-term issue for the building.”

The geotechnical report also revealed there is some loose soil on the site that will likely require remediation to bear the weight of the building. Hinton said the solution involves drilling holes in the ground at varying depths and packing them with gravel to help solidify the site. 

“This is fairly common,” Hinton said. “I do quite a bit of it, especially with buildings of this size.”

Hinton estimates the soil remediation will cost around $150,000.

“On a project of this size and complexity, that really isn’t that much money,” Hinton said. “It isn’t something we can’t find a way to absorb.”

Hinton said the project’s overall budget, which includes soft costs such as furniture and fixtures, is currently clocking in at $23.3 million – roughly $1 million more than the max budget set by the Board of Education. 

“We think we can continue to work through this and get to where we need to be,” Hinton said. “We’re just not quite there yet, but we’re trying to squeeze and refine where we can on all of our design concepts.”

Hinton closed his report by providing a refresher on the school design, including some small updates. 

The ground floor will feature an administrative suite, a nurses’ area, a guidance area, a STEM suite and a gymnasium with an 84-foot basketball court, which makes it large enough for high school basketball. The gym will feature retractable bleachers with a capacity of about 600. If the bleachers are retracted, there is sufficient room for two full-size basketball courts. 

The second and third floors will be mostly identical with the second floor featuring fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms and the third floor housing the seventh and eighth grades. 

Each level will feature a teachers’ planning area for meetings and breaks. These areas will not be accessible by students.

The MItchell News

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