Groundbreaking

(Submitted) This design shows new parking area and street realignment that is under construction. The design is by McKee and Associates.

The Tallassee City Board of Education was scheduled to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new parking lot at Tallassee High School on Tuesday. The ceremony marked the beginning of a multitude of upcoming construction projects that will end with a new school on the current campus.

According to the plans, portions of King and Preer streets, which run adjacent to the high school, will be rerouted to create a large parking area for students and alleviate congestion on those streets where students currently park and walk to class.

Work was scheduled to begin June 1 but delayed because the original bids were double the amount budgeted for the project. After rebidding, superintendent Wade Shipman said the parking lot project will cost $1.096 million and should be completed by the fall.

According to Shipman, many of the original plans were altered to bring the project in under

budget.

"We were going to have to relocate the greenhouse, reorient the band field and do a lot of work on the back side (and) relocate some of the power," he said. "All of that was going to add a tremendous amount of expense that we basically said we can live with the way some of this is right now. But this really gives us the parking changes that we are needing and it lays the site out for future building."

However, hopes for a massive rebuilding of THS — including a new main campus building, an auditorium, gym and cafeteria — far outstrip the money available. Shipman said the entire project will cost nearly $35 million and a new main campus building will consume more than half the budget.

The new main campus building, which will be constructed where the current building stands, would be 37,800 square feet and would house more classrooms, more office space and more seats in the auditorium.

"The new building will be better than the existing building in a lot of ways," McKee and Associates’ Walter McKee said. "The classrooms will be 100 square feet bigger, it's going to be 21 classrooms, plus at this point we are recommending moving the science labs."

The new building would house three more classrooms than the current building, administrators will have 50% more office space, the guidance department will be relocated in the new layout and the new auditorium will have a higher capacity, McKee said.

"Currently the auditorium has 450 seats," McKee said. "The auditorium as we propose has 636 seats in it. The band room will seat 125."

McKee said students would be without the main campus building for one school year.

Greater campus security will also be provided in the new building after police chief Matt Higgins and fire chief Travis Jones compiled a report critical of safety and security weaknesses in the existing building.

Access to the interior of the campus will be limited with the use of a gate system from the time school begins until it ends.