Construction is continuing at the new school facility in Bryan, and thanks to El Niño, there has been little interference from Mother Nature. The Superintendent of the Bryan School District, Ms. Diana Savage is particularly enthusiastic about the progress being made on what will be a most impressive, state-of-the-art educational facility.
“We are at approximately 80 percent under weather roof,” Ms. Savage said. “The roof is not finished completely because we’re waiting for more consistently warm temperatures, but we are dry, and we are roofed over about 80 percent of our building.”
The project is as ambitious as it is magnificent, but the construction teams are on schedule for completion this summer. “There are critical dates in the timeline of the construction,” Ms. Savage reported; “all of those critical dates have been met to this point. We feel really good about where we are with the schedule. We will admit, and the construction managers will be the first to admit that this is a very aggressive schedule, but we are on track. Most of the courtyard is bricked, and they will be finishing that up this week. In the academic wing, which is the only two story section of the building, we have rooms laid out. The drywall is up on at least 50 percent of the academic wing, and they have started painting. The terrazzo floor will be going in later this month. That is a long process, but it will be going in later this month.
Concrete floors are being poured in our music area and our commons area. The gymnasium electrical is finishing, and they will be painting that soon. We are really happy with where we are today in the progress. We have close to 120 workers on site every day, and they are in all facets of the building; there is a flurry of activity on the site.”
Despite all the reasons for unbridled enthusiasm, Ms. Savage stressed that the administration is opting to be upbeat, yet conservative with the schedule…and for good reason. “We are waiting,” she said, “…because we had one hiccup in the fall with some precast concrete that was delayed by the manufacturer. We are waiting to make the final dates in April, at our April board meeting. We are projected right now to have the building finished on July 26th. We are looking at setting the calendar at that April board meeting, and setting the start date. We are being very cognizant of the fact that our staff is going to need some time for not just last minute touches, but to make sure that their rooms are set up, and to make sure that they understand the new technology that will be in the building before the students come. We do plan to host some kind of dedication and open house tour sometime in August before school starts. We are waiting to make sure that we don’t have another one of those hiccups between now and July.”
When it comes to the successes of the project, Ms. Savage does not hesitate to give credit where it is due. “We have a great team,” she said, “…and we work very well together. One of the things causing that, I think, is that we are very honest with each other. If there is a problem, we address it right away. We make sure that everybody is on board with the solution. Change orders have not had a huge impact on our project. Something that we are very proud of at this point, is that we are still under budget. We are very pleased with that.”
So, Bryan is getting a new, much larger school facility. This is not exactly the best kept secret in the area, but while the focus has been upon the new building, little is being said about its predecessors. Ms. Savage spelled out the details about who will be moving, and when. “The transition plan is that this fall, we will open the new 6 to 12 building, and we will move students into that building,” she explained. “For next school year, the students from Lincoln in grades 2 and 3, and the students from the middle school in grades 4 and 5, will transition to our old high school. So next year, while the renovation of the current middle school is being completed, we will still have students at Washington, at our preschool, and our old high school which will have students from grades 2 to 5. The following year, in the fall of 2017, all of our Pre-K to 5 students will transition out into their new building. For the first time in the history of Bryan City Schools, we will have all students on one campus.” Sounds simple enough…but there is much more to it. Three old buildings are in the mix, and with them come specialized problems of their own.
“One of the first things we have to do is work with our construction managers,” Ms. Savage detailed, “…because we must deal with the asbestos; the buildings have to be abated before they can be demolished. We are looking to set up some type of auction. Many people have expressed a compassion for the (Lincoln) building, and they want a piece of the building, so we are trying to understand the parameters of what we can and cannot sell. We look to set that auction up this fall at the Lincoln site, and then the abatement demolition will happen sometime this fall or winter.”
Another thing that is often overlooked in the opening of a new school building is the purpose for which it is being built…the education of the local youth. “I would like to touch a little bit on our teacher preparation and moving into the new school,” Ms. Savage said, “…because we talked a lot about what is happening physically and externally with the new building. We are focusing on the educational process as well with our teaching staff in our students. For the past two years, we have really been working on the educational delivery, and focusing more on project based learning and hands-on learning. Our students are just so excited about this new concept.
What’s amazing is we’re experimenting, we are piloting, we’re refining…but when we move into this new building that can facilitate this type of new learning, it’s going to be amazing to see what can happen. We are really excited, not just with what is going on in the actual construction, but what’s happening within our staff, for the students, for the changes that we’re making to prepare to get ready to move into this new building. That’s very exciting as well!”
The excitement in the Bryan School District is not simply real, it’s palpable…not just in the students, but in the educational staff as well. This is a great time to live in Golden Bear Country.
Timothy Kays can be reached at