ACS approves five-year school project plan

Alabaster's currently under-construction new high school is the largest item on the school district's five-year plan. (File)

Alabaster’s currently under-construction new high school is the largest item on the school district’s five-year plan. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – A new high school remains the largest project on the horizon for the Alabaster City School System, but the district has several other renovation and technology-improvement plans in its future, according to a capital plan approved by the city’s Board of Education during an Aug. 26 meeting.

The School Board voted unanimously during the meeting to approve the five-year capital plan, which must be formulated by all Alabama school systems and submitted to the state Department of Education each year.

“It’s very exciting to be a young system and be able to act on this capital plan,” Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said during the meeting. “It’s really not changed much. It’s mostly a continuation of what we have already started.”

The largest item on the plan is the city’s new high school, which is being constructed on a more than 300-acre tract of land between Thompson Road and Kent Dairy Road. The land has already been cleared for the new school, which is set to open to students in the fall of 2017.

In the plan, ACS budgeted $85.5 million for the new school and its athletic facilities, ACS Operations Coordinator Dr. Jeff Atkins said during an Aug. 27 interview.

The new high school project is being funded with a portion of the $120 million in bonds the School Board issued in August 2014.

The capital plan also includes $14 million for renovations to the current Thompson High School building, which will serve as the city’s middle school after the new high school opens. Atkins also said the THS renovation project likely will come in significantly less than the budgeted amount.

The school system is planning to fund about $5.6 million in renovations to the current Thompson Intermediate School in 2016.

Once the new high school opens, ACS is planning to shift students out of the current TIS building. The TIS building will then house the system’s central office, ACES career-prep program, Warrior Center for special-needs students and alternative school.

The five-year plan also includes $1 million for roof upgrades to the current TIS and THS buildings in 2017, $500,000 for HVAC service in 2019 and funding for technology upgrades in 2018 and 2020.

“Eventually, we know we are going to have to put some serious money into technology in order for our kids to get the best and be able to compete,” Atkins said.