GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The first building at Gulfport High was supposed to have come down by now, but the demolition to make way for a new high school has been postponed.
After voters approved the $41 million bond issue last year to build a new Gulfport High School, the superintendent told WLOX the project should start in early 2015.
Here we are in February, and still no demolition. The reason behind the delay is student safety.
Gulfport Superintendent Glen East thought he would start hearing the pounding of the wrecking ball last month. Now, it looks like the first building on the Gulfport High School campus won't be coming down until this summer.
"I would love to have had construction start in January, but wiser heads than mine, as we sat down with the construction team and talking about student safety, the team decided with this first demolition to get the kids off campus, set up the fences and make things as safe as possible this first time around," said East.
As soon as classes let out on June 1, heavy equipment will roll in. The first to go will be the math and science building, the backside of the old gym and nine classrooms in the vocational complex.
The project will be done in phases, so as more buildings are demolished, crews will have a better idea of how the students will move around the construction zones.
"The construction team, the people that are going to actually be here during the building, that gives them a chance to see how our children react to the fences, the gates and so forth," said East.
East said while the demolition work has been delayed, it should not affect the construction timeline.
"They're assuring me still that we'll be finished and rocking and rolling in this building 2016, for most of it," said East.
East said the wait will be worth it, because the new state of the art school will feature a larger fine arts facility, a new athletic field house and academic institutes you won't find in any other school in Mississippi.
"This is a great project. It looks great on paper. I'm looking forward to the day we can turn the key and our students can call it home," said East. "It's a little bit still kind of a dream. You're looking at things on paper. When you start seeing shovels and you start hearing a little bit of construction, that's when you realize hey, you're rolling."
The architect and construction manager will present the final plans to the school board on Monday. Then, the bidding process will begin.
Again, the new school should be ready by the fall of 2016. After that, several buildings on campus will undergo renovations as part of the project.