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Austin building ahead of schedule
Lack of rain aids construction of science/social studies facility at high school

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com · 340-2432

A drought may be devastating for farmers, but the lack of rain is helping the construction of Austin High School’s science/social studies building.

Decatur City Schools Supervisor of Maintenance Bruce Friday estimated Pearce Construction is about three weeks ahead of schedule because of the dry weather.

The $7 million building is now on schedule for completion in November, so students and staff will have to suffer through at least one more semester of portable classrooms.

“We’ll probably move in and start classes in the second semester (of the 2007-08 school year),” Friday said.

The building is “in the dry” so, when it does start raining, the schedule won’t be affected. Friday said the ductwork on the first floor is complete and ready for connection to the air conditioning unit. The orange-and-black tile in both restrooms is finished, but the rest of the floors are bare concrete. The sprinkler system passed its last pressure test Wednesday.

“We should have the first floor’s power on in about a week,” Friday said.

Crews have begun to put the first of 14 downstairs classrooms together. In seven months, social studies teachers will be teaching about history, government and economics. The computer wiring is waiting in some places.

Moving upstairs, Superintendent Sam Houston beams at the sight of gas pipes in the four labs waiting for connection for use in chemistry, biology and other sciences. Two classrooms will share one lab.

“The labs they use now in M- and E-buildings would fit easily into these new labs that are so much bigger,” Friday said.

The teachers also have set-up rooms so they can prepare experiments for other classes and bring them out when it’s time for the lesson.

“We tried to make our labs as flexible as possible,” Houston said. “All are set with gas, electricity and water. But there are some specific needs that each curriculum needs.”

Teachers have their cubicle in an office, allowing more flexibility on classroom use and teacher privacy when grading or planning.

Houston said he has been pleased with the building so far.

“It’s beautiful and very functional. There’s definitely plenty of space,” he said.

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