Major South Heart School renovation breaks ground

SOUTH HEART--While ground work at their school won't likely begin until August, the high school seniors of the South Heart School District got a chance to use gold shovels and do some some earth moving of their own last week.

2552080+0524 South Heart School Render web.jpg
The southeast entrance to the South Heart School could look as it does in this rendering within the next two years, though the design is still being finalized. (Rendering courtesy of JLG Architects)

SOUTH HEART-While ground work at their school won't likely begin until August, the high school seniors of the South Heart School District got a chance to use gold shovels and do some some earth moving of their own last week.

The major renovation of the South Heart School-the only one in its district-celebrated its groundbreaking last Wednesday in a ceremony that pulled together everyone from students and school staff to administrators and architects.

District Superintendent Calvin Dean said the groundbreaking was timed to involve the campus before class is dismissed for the summer.

He said that was partly so the district's students could hear informational presentations from representatives of firms involved with the project, JLG Architects and JE Dunn Construction.

"It was a great learning experience for the students," he said. "They got to hear about what's going on, because even though you can't yet see the construction, there's a considerable amount of work."


The groundbreaking marks a ceremonial start to a planned renovation and build that began in earnest with the passage of an $11 million bond referendum on March 22.

As currently planned, the actual construction would span two phases in two years.

The first phase, which would be due for completion by fall 2017, would add onto the elementary school wing of the current building's north end. It would also build out new space on the south end to house the school's vocational and agriculture department and add new high school classrooms.

The second phase, which would be finished by fall 2018, would focus on the demolition and replacement of the school's oldest structure, a building from 1916 currently used for a variety of functions.

JLG architect Jennifer Jackson, the project manager for the school project, said both phases will be bid together to gain an economy of scale advantage for pricing.

"We're trying to strategize our packages to get the best possible numbers to the owner," Jackson said. " ... Plus, if you have somebody who's already done the finishes, they already know what's good and what goes in the first phase and can apply that in the second phase."

Jackson said the first bid package will be due in mid-June and will address the civil side of the project, including site and utility work.

Another package will be slated for August, she said, and will include items like "concrete work for the foundation, the structural steel and, basically, the entire structural system."


Jackson said bidding for the remainder of the project will take place in early September.

In the meantime, she said JLG is working to submit its design development package to school officials at the end of the month. The current renderings will be updated at that time.

The architects have also been finishing stakeholder meetings to gather input from some of the people who will actually be using the school. That group includes Pam and Russell Hoffman, a married couple who are building custodians.

Russell Hoffman said he liked being able to give input on issues that would eventually affect him, like the design options for flooring, storage and janitors' rooms. Pam Hoffman said the architects were interested in what they had to say.

"We've been at the school for quite a while," she said with a laugh. "We know in what areas you want carpet and where you don't."

She also said she was pleased with the course of the project so far, for which she praised Dean and the various architects.

"This way, it's a team approach," Pam Hoffman said. "It's the administrators, all the faculty-everybody's working together to get this new school."

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