Tribune-Courier News Reporter
The Marshall County Board of Education last week approved three measures that will move the new middle school project on the south end of the county one step closer to completion.
The new middle school will consolidate students from Benton Middle School and South Marshall Middle School into one new school on the southwest side of Benton. The new school is expected to open in the fall of 2016.
Kurt Swinford, architect with Castleberry, McGregor, Swinford, presented the schematic phase design documents for the building project, which display the location of the school on the property located on US 641 South.
Ricky Jones, director of facilities and transportation, said the plan presented and approved by the board will now go to the Kentucky Department of Education.
“The schematic is a type of blueprint for the property,” he said. “It shows approximately where everything will be located, but isn’t an actual blueprint or architectural rendering of anything.”
Jones said the new building will be very similar to North Marshall Middle School, but there will be some tweaks and all of it will need to be reapproved by the state.
While the board awaits KDE approval, it will begin seeking bids for dirt work.
Jones said the bid process will begin in a month or two and then it will take several months to get the site ready for construction.
The second measure approved by the board was the education program specifications for the middle school building project, which stipulate the space required for instructional and non-instructional areas within the new building.
Preliminary information presented to the board indicated that the new building will be more than 64,500 square feet and will serve 650 students.
Already approved by the board was a crime prevention checklist mandated by state statute for school construction.
“The building has to be functional, but more importantly it has to be designed to create the maximum amount of safety for the students, faculty and administration at the school,” Jones said.
“The statute ensures safety measures that weren’t considered before. For example now teachers can lock their classroom doors from the inside of the classroom, which they couldn’t do before.”
Jones said the checklist would require several individuals to review the design of the building to ensure a set of safety criteria are met.
Items include traffic-related hazards, physical surveillance, adequate signage, electronic lock access, safety areas and emergency call stations.
Jones said the new school is being designed to the highest standards possible. He said the process of building today is incomparable to the task 50 years ago.
“It’s truly amazing how much of a difference there is,” he said. “Not just the technology that goes into a building, but the structure itself. The building will be so much better.”