Architects designing new middle school in Jackson County

HURLEY, MS (WLOX) - By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

HURLEY, MS (WLOX) – In about six months, the Jackson County School District hopes to break ground on a brand new middle school. This week, architects presented preliminary designs for the new East Central Middle School.

The awnings on the old school are rusted and several structures are rundown.  The campus is a hodgepodge of buildings. Some of them date back to 1959.

"So we have some problems like electrical problems. We're trying to upgrade technology, but we just don't have the power to carry that," said the principal R.L. Watson. "The plumbing is old.  Matter of fact, one of the lines we found out was old terra cotta and it crushed on us and we had to go in to re-do that."

"We've got to do something to move forward out of the bad, out of the old, worn out buildings," said Jackson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Amacker.

So the Jackson County School District is designing a new middle school for East Central in Hurley. The main building will house offices, the library, computer lab, and between 12 to 24 classrooms.  It will go up on the football practice field on Slider Road, right next to the current campus.

"What we build will be state-of-the-art as we go and it'll be a tremendous upgrade from where we are," said Amacker.

To make room, some buildings will be torn down, including the 8th grade metal building, the storage building, the 7th grade field house, and the portable transportation building.

Some of the newer buildings, like the band hall and Tech Prep building will remain. The 50 year old gym will also stay. It will be renovated with new bathrooms and air conditioning.

"A lot of people in this community went to school here, and it's sort of a sentimental thing for them and they want to keep it," said Watson.

"We're real excited about keeping the newer buildings as part of this project, but getting rid of the older buildings that have had their day," said Amacker. "Once we get those children into the new buildings, we can demolish those that are being vacated and go to the next phase."

Phase two may include building another academic wing and moving the old cafeteria into the main building.  All these changes will mean a safer campus for the students and staff.

"Now they have to go outside a lot and cold weather, rainy weather," said Watson. "Eventually, when it's all completed, it'll all go under one roof.  That will be so nice."

The new school is expected to cost between $4 million to $5 million. The money will come from the District Building Fund.  The gym renovation project is being funded by a federal school bond. Construction could start as early as next summer.

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