New SHS approaches completion
The past several years, including two bond elections that led into a lengthy construction period, have been a long road for the Sherman Independent School District as it worked to build a new Sherman High School. However, that road is almost at its end.
Over the next month, crews will begin the final stages of construction on the high school site, which will open its doors to students at the start of the spring semester on Jan. 11.
"There is so much work that goes on in the final phase of construction, whether you are building a home, or a 500,000-square-foot school," said Tyson Bennett, SISD assistant superintendent of finance and operations. "It is a huge project and you are really at this point very focused on getting things complete, getting in and getting things moving."
The next few weeks will see the district focus primarily on preparing the move to the new school. This will involve packing away what will be transported to the new school and moving it over during the extended Christmas break.
Bennett said the district has contracted with a moving company to place crates at the existing high school. These crates will be be packed by teachers and will slowly make the move starting on Dec. 19.
Teachers will begin unpacking these crates when they return to work starting on Jan 4.
While the majority of the construction has been completed, Bennett said there is still work to be done on the tech side. Many of the school's systems, which are designed with smart technology, still need to be wired into the school's networks, he said.
Substantial completion of the site is expected to occur on Dec. 23, just in time to give the district the best Christmas present of all. This means that all of the major construction is completed and the building is ready to be occupied, Bennett said.
"There are all kinds of areas that we have to occupy for their intended uses," he said, noting the various uses. "We need to occupy the cafeteria for the intended use of feeding our students."
There will be minor projects that are completed after the substantial completion date, but these will primarily be cosmetic and aesthetic items.
"In your final phase there is a lot of flooring and painting — it is a tremendous amount of flooring and painting," Bennett said.
The new furnishings have been arriving on site over the past few months. Many pieces are still being built as the big day approaches.
"You have a crew that is on site putting together furniture all day, every day," Bennett said, adding that about 10 semi trucks of furniture arrived last week.
With the new school open, district officials will be able to start the work on preparing the current high school for its next life as the district's second middle school. However, Bennett said there will only need to be minor upgrades to the site.
"It isn't anything big like renovations with a capital 'R', he said. "It is more looking at it from the standpoint of setting up the rooms that are needed for a middle school."
For his part, Bennett said the project coming to completion, despite delays and years of work, should be a proud moment not only for the district but for all of Sherman.
"I think it is really going to set in once we get the kids on site, once we get the kids utilizing the facility in a way we envisioned years ago," he said. "That is going to be such a proud moment for us, for staff, for students and our community."