HELENA – Thursday night, Helena community members gathered at First Baptist Church for an update on Central Elementary School construction.
Builders say since a lot of the concrete is poured and the steel is now vertical, the school will begin to take shape.
Last year, voters approved a $63 million bond issue to pay for new facilities at Central, Bryant and Jim Darcy Schools.
Those schools are now taking shape, and school officials and architects with SMA Architects say they’re on track to have Central’s exterior sealed up by December, so they can then start work on the interior. As planned, classes are set to start fall 2019.
The new school will be four times the size of the old school, with updated security and a focus on “learning communities.”
Tyler Ream, superintendent of Helena Public Schools, says he’s excited at the progress of the construction, and to share it with the community.
“I very much want to do this presentation for our students and our educators because I love to see their minds start working, as to what this is going to be like,” Ream said. “It’s hard to imagine when you see the pictures, and then compare that with the real-life experience of walking into a new building.”
Many people in the audience said they were pleased with the progress as well.
“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it finished,” said Julie Flynn, a parent of a former Central School student. “It exceeds my expectations.”
One challenge audience members brought up to architects is parking. Because the site is urban, with a small amount of space available, there is only room for about 17 parking spaces on site.
About 240 students will attend the school, and there will be about 40 staff members.
Ream said once construction is finished, there will be an open house for people to come the school.
The architects also film fly-over videos of construction progress every couple of weeks and will eventually compile them into one video.