In its meeting Monday at the Allen County Career and Technical Center, the Allen County Board of Education got a detailed look at plans for the coming renovations of James E. Bazzell Middle School.
Two project representatives of the Lexington-based architectural firm Sherman Carter Barnhart (SCB)—Project Architect Jamison Sills and Project Principal Kenny Stanfield-—addressed the board, offering floor plans and two options for exterior plans. The entire school will be getting an “electrical, finish and communications upgrade.”
As Stanfield noted, the plans make heavy use of existing space rather than building ground-up additions. For example, the 1987 building’s front overhang that leads into the office/lobby area will be walled in to expand the office and administrative area. This will also provide more of a waiting area for parents or guardians. It also will bring the building in line with modern Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) codes as well, like requirements that first-aid stations be within sight of the registration desk.
The rear of the lobby, which leads out the back of the school, will be re-designed for greater security. Both entrances will use a lot of glass in the new design, but tinted glass to avoid excess interior heat.
The board had options of an exterior design that featured a brick or metal facade. Members expressed support for the brick option.
SCB’s planning team also spoke with JEBMS faculty and incorporated their ideas into the design. JEBMS Principal Melissa Towery cited one example: The teachers’ workroom will be in the new administration area, freeing up room 186 to go back to its original intended purpose as a classroom.
Next to the new administrative area, exterior options include a covered walkway for picking up and dropping off students. In terms of parking and ingress/egress, the front parking area will be expanded by 32 spaces, and will feature two driving lanes.
Upstairs, the library/media center will see an expansion and floor plan adjustments. Larger windows will be added for better natural lighting. Plans call for work areas for collaborative learning as well as a computer lab and a common area for presentations, capable of seating up to 130 students.
“We’ll have a better circulation desk in the middle, to better control the whole area than what’s there now,” Sills said.
The school’s science rooms will also see a re-design, becoming two large ones. Each has a 100 square-foot closet; these will be moved to be back-to-back, and the rooms opened up into 2,000 square-foot classrooms. This more than meets modern KDE requirements of at least 1,000 square feet for science rooms. JEBMS has “Red” and “Blue” student teams. The new plans will also allow a science room for each team.
In terms of actual cost, the contracted Construction Management firm, Glasgow-based Alliance Corporation, is expected to provide a more clear picture in the developmental phase, Stanfield said. Overall, KDE-approved expenditure for the entire JEBMS overhaul totals $6.1 million. Actual costs will be determined by the bidding process.
The first phase would begin this summer, while students are out of school. This would include ceiling removal, finish-flooring removal, removal of equipment from walls and establishment of temporary lighting to prepare for in-session construction to continue. The second phase, actual renovations, would be done in eight-classroom blocks at a time, to minimize school disruption.
Stanfield said, with board approval, bidding for the first phase would begin early in May, in hopes of having firms ready to start work in June. The board unanimously approved the Phase-one plan, and to advertise for bids. In a separate motion, the board also unanimously approved the phase two schematic designs to send to KDE for approval.
In subsequent motions, they also approved a $30,682.03 pay request from Sherman Carter Barnhart for its work to this point, and a $2,145 pay request for Bowling Green-based Arnold Consulting Engineering Services for separate work on the project.