Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 30, 2014

JISD board takes next step on new elementary site

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A new campus for the West Side Elementary program is one step closer to realization, thanks to the JISD board of trustees hiring a construction manager-at-risk Monday, who will oversee the project and a Nichols Intermediate School renovation.

Dallas-based Lee Lewis Construction will oversee the projects, funded through a $22,785,000 bond election held this past November, said schools superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell.

“They do a lot of school construction across the state,” he said, adding that while the firm did not work on the last building project – involving the construction of Joe Wright and East Side elementary schools – “we'll have the same architect who designed those buildings, Clay Comb and associates, also out of Dallas.”

Trustees on Monday also approved architectural design plans at the two campuses, “so now our architects will go back to do final drawings for us to review, and we can look at the project as a whole,” Wardell said.

Afterward, the construction manager will “put together estimates,” then JISD can put the project out for bid, he added. “We're hoping that by May, we'll get those awarded, and we'll get busy on construction.”

Nichols, located on South Loop 456, will receive additional classroom space and a new band hall. The old band hall at Nichols will then be repurposed as additional classroom space and storage.

West Side – a pre-k through fourth grade program housed in a 1951-built structure located at 1002 Sunset – will move to a site on College Street, “kind of where the former Lon Morris College softball and baseball diamonds are located,” the superintendent said.

“We're tearing down the diamonds, and the school and its parking will take up (that space) – the parent drop-off entry will be on College Avenue, while the bus entrance is off Woodhaven, that way we separate the traffic, make that flow better,” Wardell said.

The 38-acre tract where the new school will be constructed was acquired by the local district last year when Lon Morris College auctioned off its property after declaring bankruptcy.

Prior to Monday's meeting, district officials honored past school board trustees with a reception, recognizing the groundwork they laid out for the district, Wardell said.