Madison HS prepares for start of construction on new school

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Madison High School Principal Orlando Reyna hosted a community meeting on Thursday to review final designs and reveal an overview of construction plans for the school’s new $82.7 million building, which crews will start to build in the coming weeks.

About 25 stakeholders turned out to hear from the project manager, the architect, and the contractor, and ask them questions.

“We’re excited about the new building,” Reyna said. “I get calls every day asking when we’re going to start seeing some bulldozers and (construction) activity on the campus. We can’t wait to get started.”

The new two-story building, which is part of HISD’s $1.89 billion bond program, will be built facing West Orem Drive on the school’s existing athletic fields. Once the building is complete, the current school will be demolished and new athletic fields will be developed.

A two-story foyer will double as a dining commons and large gathering space, while providing plenty of natural light throughout.

“This community has been waiting for a long time for this new school, so it means a lot,” said HISD Trustee Wanda Adams, who recently was elected president of the Board of Education. “I think Madison will be a bright light in this community.”

The new facility’s academic wing will showcase the school’s career & technical education programs, including metal working, automotive and agriculture. Academic neighborhoods will be connected by learning commons, giving students a place to study and collaborate.

“I think it’s going to bring a different attitude,” said Madison Coach Shawn Narcisse. “It’s going to uplift the whole community, and hopefully we’ll start getting more neighborhood kids to come back.”

Other features of the new school include main and auxiliary gymnasiums and a 25 meter lap pool.

“I’m very happy with the process and the design that we’ve developed,” said Bill Truitt of Morris Architects. “It was important to the community to build up close to the street, so the building itself can be seen as an integral part of the community.”

School administrators expect to hold a groundbreaking ceremony within the first quarter of 2017 to celebrate the start of construction. The building has a target completion date of fourth quarter 2018.

“We are trying to make sure the students understand that this is for them,” Reyna said, noting that community centers were part of the plans for the new campus. “This is going to be a place where they can come and learn, and where they can spend their time when they’re not in school.”

The 2012 Bond Program calls for the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools, including 29 high schools. Active construction is currently underway on roughly three dozen projects — more activity than at any other time in district history. Once all work is complete, the district will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.