HALTOM CITY -- The Birdville school district's Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum is getting a major face-lift.
Trustees recently voted 7-0 to approve a contract for up to $4.8 million with Modern Contractors of Euless for renovations at the 43-year-old coliseum on Broadway Avenue.
Exterior work is scheduled to start this month, but major construction won't begin until June, after the school year ends, so sports activities and graduation ceremonies can be held. Construction is expected to wrap up in November or December, said Mark Thomas, district spokesman.
The coliseum, which was built for $500,000 and named for a former superintendent, houses Birdville's athletics department. It is used for events such as community meetings, voting, volleyball and varsity basketball, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps functions, banquets and playoff games.
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Castleberry High School's commencement is scheduled for June 5 at the coliseum. Haltom and Richland High schools will have baccalaureate ceremonies there May 23.
Birdville, Haltom and Richland High schools have their graduations at the Fort Worth Convention Center because it is larger, Thomas said.
The renovation will replace bleachers with theater-style seats, reducing seating capacity from 5,200 to 3,000. Other renovations include adding restrooms and an elevator, heating and air-conditioning upgrades, and locker room refurbishment.
During the work, monthly meetings of the Birdville Association of Retired School Personnel will move from the coliseum to the school district's new career and technology center, said Jack Knowles, group president.
Knowles, a former Birdville teacher, finance director and assistant athletics director, said he coached a basketball game in the coliseum a year after it opened.
"It's been a great facility, but it's due for some sprucing up," said Knowles, who retired in 2005.
The renovation is being funded through oil and gas revenue from leases negotiated in May. Meanwhile, the district is going forward with plans to use $7 million to endow scholarships for Birdville graduates to attend Tarrant County College.
Birdville trustees and administrators expect to gather March 8 at TCC's Northeast Campus in Hurst to sign an agreement, Thomas said.
Starting with 2010 Birdville graduates, students will be able to apply for $750 per semester for up to two semesters. Students would first determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid or funds from TCC's Stars of Tomorrow scholarship program, which provides scholarships for students who graduate in the top half of their class and whose families meet certain income requirements.
Birdville will pay the difference between the amount of outside financial aid and the cost of tuition.
To qualify for the second semester, students must be enrolled for at least six credit hours per semester and maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. If a student withdraws from school, any unused funds will go back into the program.
JESSAMY BROWN, 817-390-7326