GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Construction on the new Gulfport High School could start early next year. This week, architects unveiled the latest design for the campus, and district leaders laid out the demolition and construction timeline. The new Gulfport High will have features not found in any other school in Mississippi.
"Wow! This is going to be a neat complex," said Gulfport Schools Superintendent Glen East.
On Friday, East proudly showed us the updated plans for the new Gulfport High School. One drawing showed what the campus looks like now, and the last one showed what it will look like in two years.
"The first vibrations of the wrecking ball will probably be in January or February, we hope, when we begin to take down those buildings on the north side of the campus," said East.
The classrooms in the Vocational Complex, the backside of the old gym, and the Math building will be torn down first. The vocational students will move into classrooms near the cafeteria, while the math students will use every available classroom in the academic building.
"So it'll be a little chaotic at first, but it'll work," said East.
Once those buildings are demolished, construction will start on the three Academic Institutes to prepare students for future careers. They are designed to look like a downtown business district. For instance, instead of a long hallway, you will see a winding walkway and plenty of windows and open space.
"So imagine yourself walking through a small town and passing a jewelry store, a book store, a hardware store. In these buildings, you'll walk through the same street. But you may see what the Allied Health students are doing or their wares are on display in the windows," said East.
"It's definitely unique from what we've seen in the past and we know of nothing like it in the country," he added.
The entire project will be done in phases. In all, six buildings will be demolished. While all the work is going on, students will be kept away from the construction zones. The final project will start in the summer of 2016, with renovations to the Media Center.
"What I think has sunk in is two or three years from now, this will be a state-of-the-art high school, a model for other school districts across the south, especially Mississippi to follow," East said.
The new school is scheduled to be ready by fall of 2016. The next step is to finalize the designs, hire a construction manager, and secure the $41.2 million in bonds. Voters passed the bond issue back in May to build the new school. Residents in the school district can expect to start paying higher taxes next year.