Gainesville High School’s new Advanced Studies Center is almost ready for students.
The nearly $9 million building should be ready by the start of school in August, said Adrian Niles, the chief operations officer for Gainesville City Schools.
The center is part of a list of projects under construction in the school system.
Gainesville Schools will see a revenue decrease for its 2021-2022 budget, but this will not affect those construction projects already in place. The district had about 250 fewer students last year, so it had to cut back on expenditures and will be decreasing staff by 17 positions, which includes three district office positions.
The district also plans to roll back its millage rate to 6.395 mills. Last year’s rate was 6.614 mills. Superintendent Jeremy Williams said that this would create a savings of $21.90 for every $100,000 of property value.
The Advanced Studies Center should get a certificate of occupancy in the next three weeks, Niles said, and should be open for students at the start of the school year in August.
The new building will be home to high level science classes and career technical and agricultural education programs and stands at the corner of Rainey Street and Century Place. The 43,000-square-foot building houses 12 science labs, including labs specifically designed for manufacturing, engineering, nursing track courses, AP science classes, and family and consumer sciences.
Williams said he expects the old Consumer, Technical and Agricultural Education building to be torn down by the start of school.
Most labs also have classroom areas and teacher offices attached and spaces for outdoor teaching. The classrooms are all equipped with whiteboards and will soon have 75-inch interactive monitors.
The family and consumer science lab already has most of its equipment installed, and when it is fully furnished it will have five ovens, five microwaves, several stoves, a washer and dryer, three dishwashers, a cooler and a freezer. It also holds stainless steel tables for demonstrations and food preparation, and the equipment is commercial quality, Construction Manager David Presnell said.
The building features terrazzo floors, a foyer at the main entrance that shows the school’s logo and a brick exterior whose color palette matches the rest of campus.
“We also have state-of-the-art security features,” Niles said. “It’s a great time to be part of Gainesville City Schools system.”
The high school’s new cafeteria and media center will open by January of 2022, and its cafeteria will have twice the capacity as the current facility. It is being built just to the left of the main entrance and will include a new kitchen, new tables, four different serving lines and several televisions mounted in the cafeteria. “The old cafeteria was very aged,” Niles said.
The media center will include tech-integrated furniture, conference rooms, spaces for group study and presentations, eight skylights and a computer lab. Niles presented the potential furniture to the Gainesville Board of Education Monday night, and the purchase was approved for $285,526.04.
All the front entrance glass is in place, and Niles said that any fencing out front will be removed by the time school starts, and new sidewalks and paving will be put in place as well.
Gainesville Middle School West Campus has most of its concrete slab poured now, Presnell said, and it has some steel beams up as well. It will be 190,000 square feet and will include one multi-purpose field for sports like soccer and football. Despite the planned system budget cuts, additional positions will still be allotted for the new middle school, Williams said.
The new middle school will also allow for removal of the modular unit currently being used at Gainesville Middle School East Campus, Niles said.
Niles said he is excited about a couple of upcoming projects, including a three-story academic building the first and second floor of which will attach to the new entrance area, which will lead into the cafeteria on the first floor and the media center on the second floor.
They have also started footings for the foundation for a student activities center, which will be its own building, Niles said, and these projects will eventually phase out the Ninth Grade Center and make things more centralized.
The center will house a gymnasium, locker rooms, meeting spaces, offices, classrooms, space for the marching band and the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
The student activities center is expected to be completed by August of 2022, Presnell said.
The tentative school system budget totals $74,795,151 for 2021-2022. Public hearings will be 6 p.m. June 14 and 5 p.m. June 21 at 508 Oak St.