HELENA – After about three months of construction, Helena’s newest schools are beginning to take shape.
While students are out for the summer, construction crews are hard at work building three new elementary schools. Helena School District voters approved a $63 million bond issue last year that will pay for new facilities at Bryant, Central and Jim Darcy Schools.
Superintendent Tyler Ream, who officially took over the position July 1, said he has been impressed with what he’s seen of the new buildings.
“This is a highlight for me during the summertime, to come out and visit the sites and see the progress,” he said. “Every week it changes dramatically.”
At Bryant School, crews have already installed much of the steel frame of the new school building, including some parts of the roof.
“You can start to get an image of what it’s going to look like a year from now as we’re moving furniture in and getting ready for students,” said Ream.
The district has demolished their former maintenance shop, which sat across Sanders Street from the Bryant campus. In the coming months, that section of Sanders Street will be closed. The shop site will then be used to expand the campus, which was formerly the smallest in the district.
At Central School, crews are currently working on the new building’s basement and gym. Construction managers expect to have foundations finished and start on structural steel work in August.
Workers at Jim Darcy are finishing foundations for the school’s classroom wings and building walls for the gym. Supervisors say they will begin steel work next week.
Leaders expect all three schools’ exteriors to be sealed up and ready for the weather by winter.
Ream said, so far, all three projects are running on schedule. The new schools are expected to open by the summer of 2019.
“As exciting as this is, I think a year from now it’s going to be even more exciting, as we are literally moving in and preparing for students in advance of the 2019-2020 school year,” he said.
These will be Helena’s first new school buildings in decades. The bond proposal to pay for them passed with nearly 75 percent of the vote.
“A continued thanks to our Helena community for making this possible for our students,” Ream said.
The bond also paid for security and technology upgrades at all of the district’s elementary and middle schools. Work has already begun at C.R. Anderson and Helena Middle Schools and at Four Georgians, Rossiter and Warren Elementary. Kalli Kind, the district’s director of support services, said those improvements should be finished in time for the upcoming school year.