New fine arts building to benefit hundreds of students at OMHS

NORTH SHELBY – Plans are taking shape for the construction of a new fine arts building at Oak Mountain High School.

The addition will be an extension of the school’s current arts building and will provide more space for rehearsals, storage, a music library and offices for the choir and band programs, OMHS Associate Director of Bands Travis Bender said.

“It will be larger than the current facilities we have,” Bender said of the building. “It is slated to break ground this spring. We’re supposed to be meeting with the architect soon.”

Bender said the project is estimated to total about $4 million and is included on a list of capital improvement projects the Shelby County School District plans to complete over the next several years with revenue generated from refinancing existing debt at a lower interest rate and a state bond issue.

“We’re very appreciative to our Board of Education for continually supporting the arts at Oak Mountain,” Bender said. “Our superintendent and principal both were instrumental in making this happen.”

Nearly 550 students participate in OMHS’s band and choir programs, meaning roughly one third of the student body will benefit directly from the project. That’s not counting students in the theater program who use the auditorium for rehearsal space.

After the new building is completed, Bender said the current fine arts facilities will be turned into extra space for the school’s athletic programs, in which nearly 600 students are involved.

Regarding rehearsals, the expansion will allow the marching band to rehearse all together indoors when students need a break from the summer heat during band camp, Bender said.

“Having a room where we can fit the entire ensemble will be very nice,” he said. “We’re literally busting at the seams in our current facility. It’s a great thing for our school.”

The district also plans to build nearly 80 additional classrooms in several communities that have experienced significant growth, including Chelsea, Calera, Helena and Montevallo.

“The school district is planning approximately $38 million for capital projects while not increasing our debt service,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks wrote in the initial press release. “It allows us to address some immediate expansion needs and to focus our attention on other renovations and improvements throughout the county.”