School Board Makes Early Decisions On New Elementary School
The Mercer County Board of Education was updated on the design work on the new elementary school. At the regular meeting on Wednesday, March 21, Beth Bauer, project manager at RossTarrant Architects, said they are in the first step of the design process, the programming phase. Bauer said they are gathering information, talking to teachers and students and looking at the programs. She said they studying how the current building is used.
The new elementary school will house 625 students from preschool to second grade. The current plan includes two additional preschool classrooms. However, there won’t be room enough for every thing. At 70,000 square feet, the proposed school will be smaller than the current one, which is over 100,000 square feet.
“Something has to be cut, something has to be reduced,” Bauer said.
The new school will have more rooms at a smaller size, for increased flexibility, she said, with a resource room between every two classrooms.
“It allows more flexibility and is more accessible to the students,” Bauer said. “Every square foot is going to cost money.”
She said the music room would serve double duty as a stage as long as it’s connected to the gym. The gym will be 5,000 square feet with a high school court and bleachers to accommodate stage and musical performances. The size of the gym will allow it to be used by all grades, not just elementary students. Bauer called the administrative section in the current building massive.
“It’s going to be tough based on what you currently have,” Bauer said. “This is going to be an area where we’re going to have a struggle a bit.”
The next step is putting the puzzle together, Bauer said. She said they are considering both one and two story layouts. Bauer said the site could accommodate both. She said a two floor layout cuts down on roof and foundation. The costs of elevator and stairs are outweighed by savings on roof and foundation, Bauer said.
She said they will return in May with a floor plan and site plan. The board will receive construction documents throughout the year and vote on the final design in December 2023. Bauer said they will send out bids in March and hopefully construction will begin April 2024. The new school will take 24 months to build, she said.
The board approved the elementary school programming. They also approved the BG-1 and voted to amend the facility program. The estimated construction cost is $29 million, based on total square footage $344 per square foot. Bauer said they would tailor the design to manage construction costs.
“It can and will change,” she said.
“So if materials double in price, those prices go up?” asked board member Cliff Prewitt.
“Yes,” Bauer said.
The board also learned there had been no bidders for the planned bathroom renovations at King Middle School. Construction will not begin when school lets out in May.
“Lot of people are booked up right now,” said Mercer Superintendent Jason Booher. Booher said they could rebid the project in November or December. The other options were to do it themselves or to scratch the project.
The board learned the first baseball game will be held the new field on April 18, while the softball team’s first game at the new athletic complex would Saturday at 2 p.m. weather permitting. Booher said the soccer bathrooms should be ready for middle school soccer season.