News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 25, 2010

Officials: New Washington High School will be ready for students’ first day

TERRE HAUTE — Anyone driving by Terre Haute South Vigo High School can’t help but notice the new building under construction on the north side of campus off Davis Drive.

The one-story, concrete block building will serve as the new home for Booker T. Washington High School, an alternative program that serves pregnant and parenting teens. The school has been at 1201 S. 13th St. in a facility that dates back to 1914.

“We’re a little bit behind schedule because of the rain, but we’re playing catch-up now. We’ve added some additional workers, and everything is going really good. We’re going to meet the Aug. 15 deadline,” said John Hamblin, an executive project development manager with Garmong Construction, the project contractor.

Students’ first day of classes is Aug. 17, and officials say the school will be ready. The structure is complete and the building is enclosed. Now, interior walls are being painted and mechanical work is being completed, Hamblin said.

Last September, the School Board agreed to relocate the alternative high school to the  South Vigo campus.

The school will have several classrooms for high school students as well as rooms dedicated to infants and young children, who will have a play area in a courtyard between the two schools.

Rooms dedicated to young children will have exit doors to the outside for safety purposes, said Steve Arnold of MMS, the building’s architect.

Franklin Fennell, VCSC director of facility support, said the new building “is a wonderful improvement for the student body of Booker T. Washington” and will better serve their needs.”

Everything is on ground level, an important safety consideration for children in the nursery.

The building will be more energy efficient and have better use of space, Fennell said. Students will have more academic opportunities and will be able to take classes at South, if they choose.

A secured hallway will connect the two schools. Washington students will be able to access South to take classes, but South students will not be able to enter Washington.

In January, the School Board awarded the $2,018,800 construction contract to Garmong, and the project is being funded through the Capital Projects budget.

The construction contract also calls for additional parking in front of South Vigo and a metal roof on the new Washington facility. Officials say the metal roof is lower-maintenance and has a longer life expectancy than an asphalt-shingle roof.

Superintendent Dan Tanoos said the project should be at or a little below budget. The move-in will occur in August and the facility will be ready for students and staff when school starts.

“It’s progressing at a pretty quick pace for a summer project. It’s a short time frame, but for the most part, they have been able to get it completed on time,” Tanoos said.

The current Booker T. Washington building on South 13th Street is being appraised prior to being listed for sale, Tanoos said. He anticipates it will be sold through a closed-bid process.

“We’ve had interest. lt’s a great location and the building is in good condition,” Tanoos said. The school is being moved because the  facility “didn’t meet the needs of students any longer.”

An evaluation of the South 13th Street building by Schmidt and Associates pointed to several problems.

The facility had shortcomings in educational suitability and was underutilized. It had no central air and no gym. It was on three levels, which presents safety issues. The nursery was in the basement, which does not meet current state standards. Also, the building is 96 years old and had infrastructure needs.

The relocated Washington program will have its own administration, teachers and entrance.

The spirit of the Washington program will remain intact, officials have said. It will keep its name and have its own signage.

During the school day, visitors to the new Washington High School will first have to go to the South Vigo main entrance and stop at the security kiosk.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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