The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 29, 2012

City schools getting new office; 2nd high school

By Jean Cole

— Sometime in March, school officials plan to sit down and discuss plans for a new high school in Athens.

Exactly when a new school will be built off U.S. 31 is unknown.

“We have to look at enrollment projections and trends and put together a plan based on that,” Superintendent Dr. Orman Bridges Jr. said.

Once a new high school is built, it is possible the old high school will become the middle school.

“That has been discussed,” Bridges said. “It has not been decided, it’s just a possibility.”

In the meantime, the school district is focused on the new Central Office under construction off U.S. 31, across the street from Athens High but north of Jack’s Restaurant.

The building will finally consolidate the school system’s current headquarters at the little red schoolhouse on East Washington Street and the offices at Athens Middle School on Clinton Street, creating much-needed space for school employees and giving parents one place to register students or address other school business.

“We were saying it would be open by May but we have now extended it to June,” Bridges said. Hopefully, they can catch up and get it in by May.”

Heavy winter rains slowed construction of the 17,000-square-foot, steel-framed office building. Still, personnel expect to be moved in before the 2012-13 school year begins in August.

“Workers have installed about half of the precast stone on the exterior,” Bridges said. “The inside is beginning to take shape. You now get a feel for the size of the rooms.”

The new Central Office stands on a 125-acre site that leaves room for growth, including the future high school.

Huntsville-based Pearce Construction is general contractor for the nearly $3 million project and Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood designed the building.