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HMS expansion continues




Hays Middle School is expanding.

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Hays Middle School is expanding.

Construction of the eight-classroom addition on the southeast corner of the building is on schedule for the planned 2014 school year opening.

In May, the Hays USD 489 board of education accepted a base bid from Paul-Wertenberger Construction for $2,587,000 for the project.

After receiving a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the district's share is estimated at $1,410,437. Built to FEMA specifications, the addition also would serve as a storm shelter for students and staff.

Crews are pouring the concrete floors this week, HMS Principal Craig Pallister said.

HMS administrators and district officials meet with contractors once a month to "talk about schedules and anything that might be out of the ordinary," he said.

Pallister said he keeps HMS staff members well-informed, and so far there's been no disruptions for students.

"We lost two fire exits, but we put in two new ones for this next year, (and there's) "no disruption to rooms inside the buildings," Pallister said.

District officials made alternate plans early on for school time and after hours and weekend events.

The construction has made a minor difference in parking. Only cooks and custodians use the north parking lot. Other staff members must park in the west lot freeing up parking space for the construction crews and deliveries.

Students are keeping tabs on the work's progress going on behind the fence, Pallister said.

After the floors are installed, the concrete block walls reinforced with steel rods will go up. The concrete blocks also will be filled with more concrete. They will look like the school's other walls, but the steel rods and concrete blocks make them sturdier following FEMA guidelines.

The building's brick exterior will match the rest in color and design.

"They're still hoping to have it enclosed -- the walls, ceiling, roof, everything -- by the middle of December," Pallister said.

With the addition enclosed, crews can work inside when the weather turns cold.

The building at 201 W. 29th opened in 1964 as Hays Junior High School. In 1981, it was renamed Felten Middle School. The name changed to Hays Middle School in 2012 after the board voted to close Kennedy Middle School at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

Paul-Wertenberger Construction also constructed a 7,500-square-foot pre-engineered metal building addition on the northwest corner of the school in 2012. That $752,600 addition has six classrooms and two restrooms, and opened for the 2012-13 school year to accommodate the addition of the former Kennedy students.

This year's head count enrollment is 584 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Administrators project there could be nearly 800 students in the middle school by the 2016-17 school year.