After nearly four years of development, planning and construction, work on the new Sherman High School is approaching completion in time for the spring semester,


Sherman Independent School District officials said this week that construction crews have begun to dry in portions of the building and have started the process of air conditioning the space. Over the next few months, portions of the 500,000 square-foot facility will begin to be transferred over to SISD.


"We are on track for starting school there in January," SISD Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Tyson Bennett said.


Preparations for the new school started in 2016 with construction following two years later in early August 2018. With the finish line in sight, Bennett said he feels good about the project.


"We’ve been working on this project so long, and we started engaging an architect in August of 2016," Bennett said. "... As we are approaching the end of the project, in times with COVID closures and breaks in our supply chains, I feel we’ve weathered this storm quite well."


Bennett said the facility is expected to be declared substantially complete by December when it will full be transferred back to the district. At this point, the majority of the major construction will be complete and only small, touch-up and check-list items will remain.


The first areas that will be completed and ready are likely going to be the cafeteria, fine arts area, classrooms and adjoining spaces. The final pieces will likely be the larger areas including the competition gym and auditorium.


While some preparations will take place during the fall months as various pieces come online, Bennett said the district has set aside three weeks during the Christmas break to do the final touches and preparations for opening day in January.


"We have a little bit more time to prepare for the spring semester and a little bit more time to get prepared and set up at the new high school," Bennett said.


Despite nearing the end of this project, the high school construction was a long road for SISD. Earlier this year, the district announced that months of heavy rain had delayed the project to the point that it would be no longer feasible to open by the fall 2020 semester.


However, Tyson said the project has since remained on schedule and did not see significant delays from the COVID-19 pandemic. The only delay the project saw was a delay in some glass work due to supply chain issues.


Once the existing school is cleared, Bennett said the district can start preparing the site to serve as the district’s second middle school. This project will not see significant renovations, but Bennett said the current H-hall will be remodeled to meet the needs of a middle school.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.