Golden shovels in hand, members of the Calhoun County Board of Education broke ground in October on an $8.5 million renovation of Saks High School.

They never intended to do the work themselves, it seems, hiring on Thursday Anniston’s Eugene Turner General Contractor to do the renovating.

Four of the board’s members attended a brief meeting held at noon to accept the contractor’s bid of $8,531,000. The vote was taken with little discussion among the board members present, though Tobi Burt did ask if the contractor “could get started today.”

System maintenance supervisor Dee Ingram said the renovation could begin in late April or early May. It may take a year and a half or more to complete, Ingram has said, and will be undertaken in phases.

“It’s going to look like a new school,” Ingram said after the board’s meeting Thursday.

Work to remake the school will include demolishing parts of the structure now used. A section of the building from its old gym north to the school’s softball field will be replaced with four new classrooms, a new home economics room, an ag shop and band room.

The front of the school will be shifted to face what’s now the student parking lot, Ingram said, and a storm shelter capable of holding nearly 1,000 people will be added.

Other parts of the school will get a facelift, too, with new flooring and ceiling tiles installed.

Factoring in new furniture, technology, architectural and other fees will likely bump the price of the renovation closer to $9.8 million, chief school financial officer Tina Parris said by phone Thursday afternoon.

The Saks High renovation is part of several similar projects the school board has undertaken, after borrowing $50 million last year to finance the work.

Board members on Thursday also briefly discussed another school renovation to come — that of Weaver High School, where architects have planned $12 million in improvements.

Ingram said bids from contractors interested in getting that work will be opened on April 18. His comments came in the context of a discussion on the board’s efforts to ensure that local contractors have a shot at the work, a topic of a recent work session.

Burt praised the way the contractors were sought for the Weaver renovation, saying that “the opportunity was there” for local contractors to bid for the work.

Board member Mike Almaroad, meanwhile, asked that certified letters announcing building projects be sent to all on a list of local contractors the board and its superintendent, Joe Dyar, have agreed to create and maintain.

Staff writer Zach Tyler: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @ZTyler_Star.

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