Plans for progress

Published 9:09 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The best way to find out what the new Jemison Intermediate School will look like is to walk through Clanton Middle School.

The design used in both schools’ plans – basically described as two wings connected by an office suite and media center – is a popular design seen in today’s schools, Chilton County Superintendent of Education Keith Moore said.

While site preparation is underway, school officials are familiarizing themselves with the 58,000-square foot facility’s plans so they can work out any issues before construction starts. Meanwhile, architects McKee and Associates are in the midst of construction bids.

“We don’t want any downtime between dirt work and construction,” said Moore, who estimates the construction phase will take about a year.

The new school will house 28 classrooms, a computer lab, offices, a library/media center, a cafeteria with stage, at least four sets of student restrooms, additional restroom facilities for faculty/staff, and a “play gym” located in a separate building.

The term “play gym” means the facility will not be regulation size, said Moore, comparing it to Clanton Intermediate’s.

“There won’t be any competition basketball played there. It will have goals but won’t be full-size,” he said.

Jemison Intermediate will be the second school in Chilton County to feature a safe hall with steel-reinforced concrete walls. These will be located in both the east and west wings.

Safe halls have become part of the countywide school safety plan and will likely be included in the designs of all future schools here.

“The students can just walk right out of the classrooms and be in a safe hall,” Moore said.

One security feature that will set Jemison Intermediate apart from other schools is an extra set of doors beyond the foyer. This will make it more difficult for just anyone to walk into the building.

“You can’t just come in like you want to. Office personnel will have to open the door before you can enter the building,” Moore explained.

The exterior of the school incorporates some new ideas as well. A canopied walkway will run from the front of the building to a west entrance. Like Clanton Middle, the school’s roof will be metal.

Then there is the issue of traffic control. Bus and car traffic will use separate roads to enter and leave the campus. A bus loop will circle in front of the school, while car traffic will enter and leave on the west side of the building.

The bus road will connect with an already existing road that runs alongside Jemison Elementary School.

Also, wheelchair ramps and sidewalks will make the single-level building accessible to the physically disabled.

While it has yet to be determined which grades the school will house, Moore estimates it will serve between 500 and 600 students. The building will take pressure off both Jemison Elementary and Jemison Middle schools, which currently house about 900 and 700 students, respectively.

As for the exact cost of the facility, Moore said he would announce it at a later date.

“We won’t know the total cost until the bids come in,” he said.