Barrow BOE accepts $20M bid for school renovations

WINDER - Winder-Barrow High School will be a construction site for the next two years.

By June 2008, students will have a new, state of the art gymnasium, a new two-story middle section, new kitchen and a completely renovated vocational instruction area.

Board of Education members voted this past week to accept a $20.1 million bid from Toccoa-based Bowen and Watson for major renovations, including 150,000 square feet of new space.

The project was one of the first to use Barrow County's new SPLOST program. It was designed by Lindsay, Pope and Brayfield Architectural firm.

"We were thrilled with the price," said Jake Grant, assistant superintendent/facilities. "We believe this will take WBHS to 1,800 capacity. They have 1,350 kids this year and no trailers. But the teachers were just floating."

The price also includes underground detention work, because presently there are no facilities for stormwater management, Grant said.

New gymnasium

In a few days, the 30-year-old gym will bite the dust, meaning the WBHS basketball team will not have a home court.

"They will get to play some neat venues because of it, like Philips Arena," Grant said. "Places they might not have gotten to play."

The new athletic facility will include a basketball arena with six half-courts that allow six classes each period to use the courts at the same time. It will also house classrooms for band, chorus, weights, wrestling, and a drama area. A move-in date is planned for November 2007.

The high school's one-story middle section, circa 1955, and the two-story section behind it, built in the 1960s, will be demolished, too. A two-story structure will rise in its place holding a new media center, administration area, special education suite and a number of new classrooms. Grant expects students and teachers to move into that section in the fall of 2007.

Once the gym and middle section open, the vocational area on the left side of the building will be vacated. When the newly renovated vocational area opens June 2008, they will enjoy a new roof, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, paint and carpet.

A new kitchen is under construction at the end of the existing cafeteria. Plans show a food court-style serving area. The current kitchen will be reconstructed to become part of the new cafeteria.

The new facilities will incorporate concepts that don't interfere with learning, Grant said. The new additions will use as much natural lighting as possible, with full spectrum indirect artificial lighting. The floor will be covered with a low-pile carpet called vinyl cushion tufted textile that doesn't absorb liquids.