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November 21, 2013

Construction continues on new $22 million Cullman High School

Walking the future halls of Cullman High School Tuesday afternoon, school board member Jason Neal looked beyond the cinder block walls and exposed rebar to see the state-of-the-art facility it will become over the next year.

I’m just so excited about the size of the classrooms, and being able to have this much space for all our kids in the future,” he said. “It’s just amazing”

Neal, along with the rest of the school board and some Cullman High officials, met at the construction site Tuesday to check in on the $22 million project and see how the construction process is progressing.

While inspecting the reinforced outer walls that will make up the academic building, board member Suzanne Harbin noted the bottom level will double as a massive storm shelter — making it easily the largest safe zone in the city.

“Of course it’s for the kids, but this will also really be a help for the community,” she said. “You’d have to figure out all the logistics, but it’d be ludicrous not to open it up.”

The first phase of demolition saw the removal of the administration building, guidance building, media center and J Building.

In their place a new two-story, 68,000-square-foot academic building is being built. The academic building will include two floors of classrooms, a media center, cafe, commons, administration space and a multipurpose facility. The bottom level classrooms will be reinforced to meet storm shelter standards, meaning they can be used as shelter in the event of a tornado or powerful storm.

The J Building is being replaced with a two-story, 22,000-square-foot fine arts building. A new auditorium lobby will be built and the main auditorium renovation will also be done at this time. The A and B buildings will remain in use until phase I construction is complete.

“Just looking at what’s been done, it almost makes you want to go back to school,” school board member Brenda Howell said.

Though the price of the new high school increased by approximately $1.6 million earlier this year when bids were approved, engineers have been working to trim costs during construction. By value engineering some minor components and plans on-site, the board has saved more than $160,000 as of this month.

“We are looking for any way we can save and bring money back to the school,” superintendent Dr. Doreen Griffeth said. “We’ll continue to look for more ways, without decreasing the value of the building.”

The project is expected to be complete by the time classes kick off in the fall of 2014.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.

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