This week crews in Jacksonville cleared a stand of pine trees from the land on which a new Kitty Stone Elementary School will be built.
The work is the first visible sign of construction on the project, but school officials have been designing the new building for months. This week, in a day-long meeting with architect Walter McKee, of McKee and Associates Architecture and Interior Design, administrators took another step forward in the planning.
“We’ve moved pretty quickly in the design process,” said school Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell, noting that the process began this spring.
This week school officials and architects settled on the size of the school lunchroom, and the dimensions of the kitchen. Campbell said the lunchroom will seat about 300 students and the kitchen will be large enough to serve both a middle and an elementary school.
“We’re planning on the middle school being built there, but it may be down the road,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the architects are nearing the end of the design phase, and that drawings will be sent to the state Department of Education and the city for approval by Oct. 1. Once approved, the system will seek bids on construction from general contractors, Campbell said.
He added that construction is likely to begin the first of next year.
The work this week was something of a milestone in the Jacksonville community’s effort to create a new school for its youngsters. After months of debate over where the building should be located, the board of education on Jan. 21 decided on the location near Jacksonville High School. About two months later, on March 24, the Jacksonville City Council agreed to give the schools the 30.5-acre lot.
In February, administrators secured $8.6 million for the construction project, adding that sum to $4 million the city of Jacksonville borrowed to build the school, giving officials a total of $12.6 for the building.
In June, principals, teachers, aides, office workers and lunchroom staff weighed in on the project, listing their wishes for the new building.
In late July, school administrators decided to build the gym at the southeast corner of the property, making it visible from the corner of James Hopkins Road and George Douthit Drive. Throughout the rest of the month, school officials met with architects for design meetings, the most recent of which occurred Tuesday.