School construction back on track

School construction back on trackBy REBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

The scheduled upgrades at Burroughs High School and construction of a brand new campus for Murray Middle School (plotted just west of BHS) are getting back on track after a series of delays, Sierra Sands Unified School District administrators reported last week to their Board of Trustees.

The $70-million construction project many years in the making has suffered from a series of setbacks and difficulties in maintaining its schedule, said SSUSD Superintendent Ernie Bell. “In order to expedite construction, we hired a new management team. We’ve been pleased so far at the progress they have made getting us caught up.”

Contractors have made strides in preparing the property at the northwest corner of French Street and Drummond avenues, where Murray will be located. The campus is expected to be in place by Aug. 1, facilitating a move-in by the start of the next school year.

Bell said that some aspects of the project — such as the building of a gymnasium — are not expected to be completed by that milestone, “but the work will continue. Our main goal is to have our students moved into the new campus by the start of the school year.”

Bell said he also just received word from the Office of Economic Adjustment that funding for BHS modernization has been approved. “That is awesome news for us.”

Teachers, and a team from the News Review, recently got an inside look at some of the construction progress.

“M Hall was just completed, and it looks amazing,” said Bell. “There is a brand new roof, new carpet, new cabinets, new fixtures — and amazing new technology.

“The hallway now has a completely different look as well.” Lockers, which are currently located on the quad, will be moved inside the academic wings in order to make room for outdoor lounging areas for the students.

“Burroughs is going to look like a brand new school,” said Bell. That includes reorienting the face of the school from the base access — where the majority of students used to enter from — to the current entrance.A new administration complex will be built near the Career Technology Education building, and designed to have a compatible aesthetic.

“This is something that has been a very long time in coming for our students and our community,” said Bell. “Part of the student culture is to make them feel the school really belongs to them. We have already seen a greater sense of ownership, which has been really inspiring to us.”

Other than the improvements of hidden infrastructure facilitated by Measure A several years ago, these are the first upgrades to the school since it was built nearly 60 years ago.

Current Board President, Tim Johnson, said that he was pleased to see the project moving forward.

Incidentally, his first involvement at the district came when he was chair of the Measure A Oversight Committee.

“That was all the ‘iceberg improvements’ — when all the changes were hidden below the surface,” said Johnson. “This time, you can actually see the improvements. It feels like we are starting to see a project, that actually began 10 years ago, finally coming to completion.”

He and the other members of the board are scheduled to tour the recently renovated halls following winter break, once everything is moved back in.

“It’s going to be really exciting once we see those walls swinging up at Murray,” said Johnson.

Residents can view progress updates at open/ssusd/murray.

Pictured: SSUSD?Superintendent Ernie Bell demonstrates the newly remodeled — and technologically equipped — classrooms in M Hall at Burroughs High School. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2016-12-16