Summer will be a busy season for construction in the Keller school district as work begins on several of the biggest projects from the bond package voters passed in November.
The transformation of South Keller Intermediate School into a $37.8 million career and technical education center kicked off this month with dirt work next to Bursey Road and moving teachers out of five classrooms that will be turned into an administration area on the building’s east side.
Trustees were also scheduled to vote on a $1 million package to demolish the front entrance at Keller High School and begin temporary renovation work.
The two projects are complex because students will be back in those buildings in late August while construction continues throughout the school year.
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South Keller Intermediate
“We’re making good progress on the CTE conversion,” said Hudson Huff, executuve director of facilities services.
The drop-off and pickup area will be in a smaller modified loop on the southeast side. Drawing students and traffic away from the west side will allow for construction of a 30,000-square-foot addition.
Because of the construction, the SKI campus will be closed to the public through July 19, and campus administrators will be in temporary offices at Bear Creek Intermediate School for the month.
In a letter to parents at the end of May, SKI Principal Trish McKeel said, “Although the outside of the building will have construction activities taking place, once the school year begins no construction activities will be happening in classroom and student populated areas during the school day.”
Keller High School
At Keller High School, demolition and additions around the front entrance will affect parking and access for students and visitors. Once construction fences go up later this month, all building visitors will park and enter on the Johnson Road side of campus.
Next fall, students and visitors will enter through the doors next to the gym, and drop-off/pickup lines will circulate through a smaller section of the visitors’ lot.
The additions to the campus, which turns 30 next year, include a two-story entrance with an administration area on the first floor and classrooms on the second floor and a larger band hall and new orchestra hall on the south side of the Fine Arts Center.
Because of all the construction focused on that portion of the building, all foot traffic inside the building will be routed through the hallway at the back of the cafeteria, at least for the first half of the school year.
“The best way to describe it is we’re going to take a big bite out of the front entry area,” Huff said.
A portion of the package before trustees included funds to soundproof the lecture hall and modify it to accommodate the band program during the 2015-16 school year and to put up temporary walls to screen construction from students and staff.
Principal Michael Nasra sent out a letter, map and floor plan to families in late May to describe changes during construction.
In his letter, Nasra said, “Student parking will be limited during construction, specifically in the areas directly south of the campus. Please know that we have developed an action plan for our student-drivers, both for reserved and general parking, so that they can park on campus and navigate around the campus in an organized fashion.”
Officials will communicate more details on the plan later this summer.
Huff said that he expects daily users of the building to quickly adapt to the changes. The challenge will be in directing visitors for special events, particularly at the Fine Arts Center, which is surrounded by construction.
The initial package also included $5,000 for signage, some of which will be used for temporary signs to direct foot traffic through the building.
Huff said that the $23.5 million addition and renovation was broken into two parts to allow for demolition work to occur this summer while students are gone. The second part, which covers the bulk of the project, will go before trustees in July.