Blue Ridge students in fourth through eighth grades can look forward to starting school in a new and improved building this fall.

Blue Ridge Superintendent Susan Wilson expects construction to be completed by the first day of the 2013-14 school year.

The project will put Mansfield Elementary students in grades 4-6 and Blue Ridge Junior High students in grades 7-8 under one roof. Once completed, the school will be known as Blue Ridge Intermediate and Junior High School.

The district decided to update and add on to the existing junior high after determining Mansfield Elementary needed to be replaced.

Wilson said she feels the project will be a great asset for the district as well as the community for a variety of reasons.

“I think this project is going to serve our community very well. We will have up-to-date, accessible facilities for our students that will function well for current educational programs. Many safety issues will be addressed by combining the two buildings on the same side of the street,” Wilson said.

“We will have appropriate technology resources for our students. The community will have an improved second gym in Mansfield for youth sports, etc. I think the design and style of the building will also enhance the community,” she added.

Construction on the new addition broke ground last June but plans have been in the works for the last five years.

Following a facilities review several years ago, the school board decided to update Blue Ridge Junior High and build an addition on it to replace the elementary school. Renovations at the junior high were completed over the course of two years.

Since the new construction began last summer, the foundation and floors have been laid, concrete block installed, and a parent drop-off area in front of the junior high has been completed. A lot of electrical and plumbing work has been done as well.

Wilson said the construction is currently experience a “temporary lull” as they wait for the structural steel delivery. That delay has put the work a few weeks behind schedule, but she still expects the building to be completed in August of this year.

As of now, Wilson said the district is on budget and still carrying a 10 percent contingency.

After the steel goes up, the roofers will be able to start working and when the weather gets warmer the exterior brick will be installed. There is much interior work yet to be done.

Preliminary plans to turn the site of the old elementary school building into a parking lot have begun, Wilson said.



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