With millage passed, Watson Chapel prepares for construction

With a fresh mandate from the electorate of the Watson Chapel School District, who approved a 2.3 mill rate increase Tuesday, a timeline for the construction of a new classroom building for Edgewood Elementary School is taking shape.

District superintendent Danny Hazelwood is anticipating a groundbreaking ceremony in the near future.

“That should be coming up pretty quick,” Hazelwood said Wednesday. “Our ultimate goal is to have the kids in the new building by fall 2014. Of course that is assuming perfect weather.”

Project architect Dave Sadler of Nelson Architectural Group in Pine Bluff said that the construction will have three distinct phases.

“We will begin with the earthwork and sitework phase shortly after school is out for the summer,” Sadler said. “We will be clearing trees, putting in utilities and generally prepping the site. This work is to be completed in August.”

Sadler said the construction phase will begin immediately after site prepping is completed.

“We will begin the new building phase in August with the construction of the roughly 50,000-square-foot classroom building,” Sadler said. “This will be going on for about 10 months and should be completed at the end of spring 2014.”

Sadler said the third and final phase will include the demolition of the old building.

“We will demolish the old building beginning with asbestos removal as soon as school is out a year from now,” Sadler said. “We will also be renovating the existing gymnasium. We will pave the new parking areas and the school bus loop, which is timed for completion by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.”

Sadler said that if the project encounters significant weather delays the move-in date will be pushed back to the spring 2015 semester.