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Members of the Decatur City School Board and staff tour the new science and social studies building at Austin High School on Wednesday.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Members of the Decatur City School Board and staff tour the new science and social studies building at Austin High School on Wednesday.

Nearing an end to portables
City school board pleased with new Austin building

By Bayne Hughes · 340-2432

Smiles were apparent and approving nods were unanimous as the Decatur school board toured Austin High School’s new science/social studies building Wednesday for the first time.

School officials liked what they saw in the $7 million building, which is about 45 days from completion. Architect Frank Nola of SKT Architects said Pearce Construction has finished actual building.

Now the company is working on a mix of interior items such as painting, floor and ceiling tile. The building passed the above-ceiling inspection Monday.

The building is also getting 24 video projectors from a 3M Co. grant.

“This is much better than we had,” said school board member Karen Jett, an Austin graduate.

The larger classrooms, 14 to be exact, with cherry-colored cabinetry, ample storage and a place for teachers to put their makeup, caught the eye of board member Karen Duke, a former teacher.

Social studies teacher Sabrina Greene said she looks forward to being under the same roof as her social studies colleagues, although she has been lucky to have a classroom during the one-year construction.

Many of her co-workers suffered through that period in 14 portable classrooms on the school’s front lawn.

Science Department Chairwoman Shannon Clark looks forward to the state-of-the-art labs. Six teachers of different subjects have shared one science lab, while others have juggled lab work with their class instruction in their classrooms.

“The conditions will be so much better, especially when you consider the safety factor,” Clark said.

School board President Dr. Charles Elliott, an anesthesiologist, pushed for the new building. He and several school officials and teachers visited science labs in other parts of the state, including Hoover, when considering designs for the building.

“You’ll be hard-pressed to find any science labs this nice,” Elliott said.

Even though the building should be complete in October, Principal Don Snow said they won’t move in until Christmas break because the move won’t be as simple as moving two departments of teachers. With science and social studies teachers spread throughout campus, their move into the new building will create openings in other places.

Snow said the goal is to put all math teachers in the M-building and English and foreign language teachers in the E-building while the business classes will get more space in a building.

He will assign classrooms in the new building. Once the portables disappear, the second-floor view of the front lawn will be prime.

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