What’s the latest on Alabaster’s new high school?

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Contractors will hit a few major milestones in the construction of Alabaster’s new high school campus over the next few weeks, and are “100 percent committed” to have the project done in time to open for the second half of the 2017-2018 school year, the construction manager told the city’s Board of Education on July 19.

During the meeting, Volkert Vice President Leon Barkan gave School Board members an update on the construction project, and said the contractors are “making great progress.” Volkert is the construction management company for the new school project.

Barkan said he toured the campus and met with the contractors shortly before the meeting, and said the “site looks great.” He said the contractors are preparing to install the final portion of the rotunda in the main academic building in about two weeks, which is the last major bit of construction on the main building.

Crews also likely will finish installing walls and roofs on the auxiliary structures, such as the gyms and fine arts center, in the coming weeks, which will allow the contractors to build out the inside of the structures.

When the new high school opens during the Christmas break at the end of this year, it will be on a portion of 300 Board of Education-owned acres between the two roadways. The front entrance to the school campus will be off Thompson Road, while the back entrance will be off Kent Dairy Road.

The school originally was set to open to students at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, but the opening was delayed due to a delay in bidding out the first phase of the project in 2015.

“The bottom line is we have 100 percent commitments from the contractors to be done in December,” Barkan said. “They are very committed to having it done by then.”

When it is completed, the new school will have room for more than 2,000 students, will have 103 instructional classrooms – 21 of which will be labs – a 1,070-seat auditorium, an 85-seat theater, a 32,269-square-foot career academy and a 50-seat lecture hall.

The new school’s cafeteria will see a major upgrade from the cafeteria at the current Thompson High School, as the new lunchroom will seat about 600 students at once, up from the 400-seat capacity of the current facility. Vickers said the kitchen will be designed to handle the increased student capacity, as the kitchen at the current school was only designed to serve 800 students.

Aerial photography courtesy of Skybama.com.