By Toni Garrard Clay/AISD Communicaitons Coordinator
Athens ISD Director of Operations Barry Choate summed it up succinctly when he called the amount of construction that took place across the district this summer as “intense.” Major work took place at four of the five campuses and continues at the high school.
Inside the main building at the high school, six new science classrooms and two new labs greeted students on the first day of school. While the rooms are located in the same space as the old science hall, they are entirely new. “That space was bulldozed,” said Choate. “We dug up the floor and put new plumbing in and used a new configuration for the rooms.”
On the north end of the high school annex, a new CTE (Career & Technical Education) building now stands. The building is divided into four sections. It houses a brand new HVAC class (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) made possible through a joint venture with Trinity Valley Community College and a $350,000 equipment grant. It’s also the site of the machining and woodshop classes, and a powder-coating booth and oven to paint projects. “These classes are light years ahead of where we were,” said Choate.
The construction across the front of the high school’s main building will be completed in stages. On the east end, the new kitchen and cafeteria should open by Christmas. The old kitchen will be turned into classroom space. The old cafeteria will become two new classrooms and a lecture hall that is more than double the space of the existing lecture hall. The high school’s new office space and the gym, as well as the balance of any remaining work, are projected to be completed during the summer of 2018.
The most visible completed project is at Bruce Field, where a new football/soccer field house and restroom/concession facility sit at either side of newly-installed turf. While the turf was the result of fire damage last spring, the construction across the district is the fruit of community support through the passage of a bond in November 2015.
At Central Athens Elementary, a beautiful new library has been built, as well as new office space. Both were severely undersized previously. At Bel Air and South Athens elementaries, new activity centers have been built to replace the too-small ones previously used.
“We’re grateful to the community for making these improvements possible,” said Superintendent Blake Stiles. “It’s sending a message to our students that they’re valued.”