high school construction

A current look at the construction site in front of Avery County High School.

NEWLAND — Ground was broken on the Avery County High School construction and renovation project on June 20. More than two months later, some curbing has been poured at the base of the school where the new front entrance to the building will be located, and there is a plywood barrier in front of the old entrance to the school.

The project, which is being paid for by the county, totals about $20 million, and will add a number of updated classrooms, including science classrooms that meet state standards. There will also be a new physical plant to meet the school’s utility needs and the demolition of some portions of the existing building.

The construction has totally obstructed the front parking lot that normally serves as the student lot at this point. Most of the traffic at the school during the school day has been redirected to the lots around the sides, rear and the old tennis court lots around front.

Interim Superintendent Bill Miller said there has been no shortage of student parking despite the elimination of the front lot, adding there were no parking problems created by the school’s first football game of the season either. Buses are being kept off site during the school day.

The school currently has no air conditioning, but heating is expected to be installed before cold weather sets in.

The Avery County Schools Board of Education is currently seeking someone to serve as a project supervisor to report to the board directly about what is happening on the ground with the project.

The board is looking for an individual with experience supervising projects with costs of $10 million or more.

There are monthly construction meetings with the contractor, architect, county and school district officials. Those meetings include an overview of the progress over the last month and the upcoming work. The architect also performs on-site reviews.

Miller also checks on the project on a weekly basis, and pointed out that construction projects always have unexpected obstacles.

“That’s kind of just the process of construction, and you deal with them when they come up,” Miller said.

Miller added the project is going as expected based on his experience with school construction.

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