By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
Design work for the new Cullman High School is coming into the home stretch, and officials expect to bid the $14.5 million renovation in approximately four weeks. In the meantime, the school board approved two related initiatives that should give the project a jump start.
The board has now solicited for portable units that will be used to house some administrative offices at the high school once demolition and construction begins. The first buildings to be razed include the media center, J Building, administration building and guidance offices.
The centerpiece of the project is a new, two-story academic building that will replace the current library, administration and guidance offices. A full renovation of the auditorium is also planned, along with the construction of a new lobby to connect the auditorium to the cafeteria and expand capacity. New facilities will be wired for high-speed and wireless Internet capabilities, while older buildings will be retrofitted.
Once complete, the new 68,000-square-foot academic building will include two floors of classrooms, a cafe, media center, commons, administration space and a multipurpose facility. The J Building will be replaced with a two-story, 22,000-square-foot fine arts building.
In a recent update to the school board, architect Rodney Steger said the project should be ready to bid by early February.
“We’re still working through drawings and are probably about four weeks out,” he said. “We’re getting to the point where we should have everything together.”
Though the board is anxious to get the 18-24 month construction process underway, board member Suzanne Harbin noted they understand the importance of getting the plans completely nailed down before starting.
“As ready as we all are to see dirt move, the most important thing is to be ready once the dominoes start falling,” she said.
The board approved the first “domino” of the campus redesign earlier this month, by letting bids for a new maintenance building that will be constructed beside the tennis courts. The 6,000-square-foot structure will replace the current bus parking lot, but still allow room for parking. Officials say the building is needed to provide additional storage space for equipment and supplies.
The entire renovation project is being funded by additional revenue from a new, countywide half-cent sales tax.
* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.