Find it Fast
- Bessemer Academy
Groundbreaking for New East and Centennial Slated for Late March
Although the ground may be frozen solid for the time being, the soil on which the new Centennial and East high schools will be built is set to be broken late next month.
So noted Bob Lawson, the district’s Executive Director of Facilities Management and Construction, in an update presented to the D60 board of education.
Construction of the new high schools is the centerpiece of the 2019 $218 million bond approved by property-owning taxpayers.
For the past year, district representatives have been working with school and community stakeholders in the design of the new buildings. Through engagements with learning services, school staff, technology and athletics departments and stakeholders, via both in-person and virtual “town hall” meetings, the design of the schools has come into sharper focus.
“Throughout the design process, our architects, design consultants and our construction management contractors have worked to define the design process to achieve everything the district and community wanted in the buildings,” Mr. Lawson informed the board.
During this lengthy process, the Colorado Springs-based construction firm G.E. Johnson partnered with Pueblo’s H.W. Houston Construction to provide the district and design team with pricing and construction guidance to ensure the projects could be completed within the district’s requirements and budgets.
When the design phase started, the initial thought was that each school would have either an auditorium or auxiliary gymnasium, “but not likely both,” Mr. Lawson explained. “After months of work, we were able to include both features into the new schools.”
Also to be included is a Variable Refrigerant Flow2 HVAC system, the most energy efficient system available that provides the best conditioned air quality possible. As the buildings were designed under the Collaborative High-Performance Schools model, energy efficiency and sustainability will be at the forefront.
“The buildings will not only help reduce their carbon footprint in the community but also significantly save the district in energy costs,” Mr. Lawson told the board.
The buildings will host the most up-to-date technology and systems available, with the state-of-the-art auditoriums easily converted into lecture rooms. Designated teacher workspaces, collaborative areas, and conference and meeting rooms are standard features.
Also, specialty rooms for JROTC, band, choir, Career and Technical Education and science are included in the design.
For use by school and alumni groups, a community room will be conveniently located at the front of the new buildings.
Attesting to the welcoming nature of the design are large open areas conducive to student gathering and collaboration. The dining commons leads to a large outdoor patio area, from which students and staff can take in the pleasing landscaping, and dine outdoors in favorable weather, in a safe and secure manner.
With the design phase now a wrap, efforts are turning to construction, with contractors soon to present Guaranteed Maximum Price proposals, which are expected to come before the board for consideration on February 23.
Subject to board approval of those proposals, groundbreaking for the new schools would be scheduled for the week of March 29.
The construction of the new schools is expected to last 18 months, followed by six months of demolition of the existing buildings and construction of new fields and playing areas.
At the conclusion of the presentation, board members congratulated Mr. Lawson and his staff for their work on the project and the inclusion of both a gym and auditorium into the design. The energy efficiency, natural lighting and other features also drew accolades.
“This is such an incredible thing not only for our district but the entire community,” noted Board President Taylor Voss. “Our kids really do deserve the best, state-of-the-art schools. And I couldn’t be more excited that we are going to have these two high schools in our community.”
The new space and features, Board Member Barb Clementi added, will require assessment on the part of building leaders and staff on how to make best use of all that will be available.
“That already is on the radar of the teaching and learning team,” replied Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso. “And we look forward to the groundbreaking in March.”