Cullman County Board of Education member Danny Alldredge said he thinks the new middle school at Holly Pond will give the students there a greater sense of belonging by having their own facility.

“I hope this will give the middle school kids more of an identity,” he said.

Set for completion by the start of the 2009 school year, ground-breaking has commenced and the foundation has been set for the new Holly Pond Middle School building.

“The slab has been poured and they’re starting to work,” Cullman County Board of Education Superintendent Hank Allen said.

The new 67 x 150 feet structure — designed by Leonard Design Architects — will include seven new 32 x 26 feet classrooms, among other various features.

“It’s a seven classroom addition with office areas, a principal’s office, teacher workroom, another small office and a small storage area,” said architect Jerry Bishop. “We’re using block and brick construction.”

Bishop said the new building will also include security features such as surveillance cameras.

The middle school will be attached to an existing four-classroom building and have a new entrance. As part of the project, the four-classroom building will also be re-roofed.

The total cost of the new facility is $1,525,985.

Guntersville-based Chorba Contracting Corp. was awarded the bid for the middle school and is handling the construction efforts.

Allen said work is currently on schedule and going well.

“Everything is going smoothly,” he said.

Allen said the addition has been well-planned, and he believes construction will not be much of a distraction to day-to-day school time operations this year.

“No classes should be interfered with,” Allen said. “We have it planned out.”

Former Holly Pond Elementary School Principal Chuck Gambrill has accepted the position as principal of the new middle school, and said a growing student body is the main reason for the expansion.

“We’ve really gained on enrollment,” Gambrill said.

Previous to the construction of the new building, middle school students have been divided among the elementary and high school facilities, as well as four portable trailers that are currently serving as teaching space.

“They’re basically running out of classrooms,” said Allen.

Gambrill said approximately 275 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students will call the new facility home next school year.

Allen said the financial catalyst for construction came from a recent surge of government funding, part of a 2007 government capital bond issue.

The bond issuance received by the Cullman County Board of Education totals approximately $11.1 million.

In addition to the four portables at the elementary school, Holly Pond High School is currently using two portables trailers as classroom space, and Allen said that is an issue the board hopes to look into in the future — depending on how far the bond issuance will stretch.

“We’re keeping the portables out there for now,” he said. “We’ve got to set our priorities.”

The bond issuance paying for the Holly Pond Middle School is also funding upcoming expansions at Harmony School, which should also be completed before the start of the 2009 school year. Harmony School will be using five portable trailers in the 2008 school year.

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