By Kristine Favreau
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – A major overhaul of several Copperas Cove Independent School District campuses that began after voters passed a $20 million bond issue in 2005 are nearing completion and thanks to sound planning on several levels, the entirety of the undertaking has come in under budget.
"A lot of credit for the efficiency and value we are receiving for our dollars goes to our construction manager, Cloud Construction," said CCISD Superintendent Dr. Rose Cameron. "Not only have they been wonderful to work with but they also have found ways to save money during the process. This has allowed us to actually accomplish more on some of our projects even in spite of hurricanes and rising construction costs."
Both Copperas Cove High School and Copperas Cove Junior High School had the most extensive renovations planned, including completely new buildings to house state-of-the-art cafeterias and new front entrances.
"The new front entrances are particularly important considering the campus access issues of late that are sweeping schools across the country. In addition to a "must check-in" office infrastructure, we have adopted new district-wide Campus Access Procedures for all visitors and have formed a Safety Advisory Committee that will explore other ID check-in software options and enhanced security measures for the following year," said CCISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Bobby Ott. "These new entrances clearly define the front of our schools and give the employees a chance to visibly screen all campus visitors before they gain entry into a CCISD school."
The junior high's brand new cafeteria, fine arts rooms, science labs and classrooms were completed in time for the start of the school year, and the library opened by the second week of school. The new offices and walkways were completed in October with the new gym scheduled for completion in February. Two additional projects were approved this month for CCJHS – a parking lot and two breezeways. The projects were not part of the original construction plans, but due to available funding, the district decided to add the additional projects.
"With the exception of a few small pieces, we've been able to get all of the major construction pieces completed. Several months ago we requested bids for additional work and now have pricing we're comfortable with," Cameron said. "We had a $20 million bond passed by our taxpayers for construction and reserved $7 million of that. We were able to pass the bond as well as set money aside without an increase to the taxpayers. That says a lot about this administration, this school board and their combined fiscal responsibility."
The new front entrance forces visitors directly into the main office, and will prevent anyone from entering the building without first signing in.
Also new to the junior high are the computer labs which will, for the first time, allow each grade access to its own lab. In the past, grade levels were sharing one lab. Additionally, students will be seeing all new lockers, along with a new theater arts building that includes a new stage, a new band hall, soundproofed practice rooms, and a new choir room, all of which have been completed.
In comparison to Copperas Cove High School, the work done at the junior high may seem like small potatoes to some. In addition to the new cafeteria, walkways, classrooms, library and a plethora of other aesthetic projects, the largest change to the campus is the new Bulldawgs gym.
Before the addition of the new gym just to the west of the auditorium, two gyms were housed in the main high school facility in Copperas Cove – one a competition gymnasium sized for a class-2A high school facility.
The other, a holdover PE-style gym from when the building was still a junior high school, had a rubberized floor. That gym is now in the process of becoming a library, but the smaller competition gym will remain functional.
The project, which finished a few months late due to some work on the dressing room, still fell within the original allocated budget, said Sonny Monroe, CCISD assistant superintendent of finance and support services.
"There was some redesigning of the dressing room space," he added. "The money that we spent on it was money out of our current bond funds."
After three years of planning, construction and development, Monroe said it was worth it.
"I think the biggest difference is court space for practice time," he said. In years past, he added, "they would have to start practicing early in the morning to way late in the evening."
Now, with three new practice courts and the old competition gym, more players can practice at a given time.
Richard Herbst, the girls varsity basketball coach, said the facility has been helpful, particularly in finding practice time.
With four girls teams and four boys teams, one practice gym was a stretch. But now, with the new facility, teams can hold more flexible schedules.
CCHS will complete the new library and new classrooms in early February 2008; and the new CCHS front entrance in late spring 2008.
Ott added that the district has faced the expected construction hurdles that come with costs due to noted natural disasters, and the obstacles that come with the nature of renovation work – for example, going in to take down a wall, but in the process finding a roof drain that needs to stay in place.
"The construction project has been very efficient. The process from stakeholder involvement to design to bidding and board approval takes a large degree of time before groundbreaking occurs," Ott said. "CCISD has done an outstanding job of developing methods of rerouting school traffic and carefully timing the actual construction process as not to interfere with student learning, but also continue to expedite the process of project completion."
Contact Kristine Favreau at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-3535