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New website helps families and neighbors keep track of Metro Schools construction projects

Smith Springs Elementary School, Opening August 2015

Smith Springs Elementary School, Opening August 2015

School construction and improvement projects are happening all over Nashville, and the community now has a brand new tool to keep track of it all. MNPSConstruction.com launched today as a new website dedicated to sharing information about every major construction project in Metro Schools. It gives taxpayers an open and transparent document of how Metro Schools spends capital funds to improve schools.

The website includes a comprehensive view of all on-going or recently completed projects, including a detailed description, cost and completion date for each one. There will also be regular updates of construction work along with progress photos and renderings of the proposed final design.

“We have been very fortunate in terms of capital funding in recent years, and our team has been very busy building and improving schools,” said Ken Murdock, director of the Facility Planning and Construction Department. “We have a lot of projects underway right now. Nashville residents deserve an easy way to monitor the projects that affect them and see that we are being good stewards of their tax dollars.”

Proposed renovation plans for Hume-Fogg Magnet High School

Proposed renovation plans for Hume-Fogg Magnet High School

In addition to project information for the general public, MNPSConstruction.com also includes job bid information for architects and contractors. This increases transparency around the bidding process and makes it easier for architects, contractors and suppliers to participate.

There are currently 22 major construction projects in progress or recently completed in Metro Schools. These projects are designed to meet enrollment growth, relieve overcrowding and update older buildings to the needs of a modern school.

Capital improvements are funded through capital spending plans proposed by the Mayor and approved by the the Metro Council. Thanks to their consistent support over the last several years, Metro Schools has made steady progress on a long list of capital needs.

“Nashville has seen an enormous amount of growth, and our district has had to keep up,” said Murdock. “This year we need to start tackling some long overdue projects on the slate and also start preparations for some of the largest high school projects we have seen in many years. We are hopeful that the capital improvement budget will be approved and we can get started meeting the next wave of serious need in our schools.”

Proposed addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School

Proposed addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School

The 10-year capital master plan details $1.3 billion dollars in capital improvement needs. The Metro Council voted last night to approve $131 million for capital funding in fiscal year 2016. This includes money for a number of large projects, including:

  • $30 million for a total renovation of and addition to Overton High School
  • $30 million for a total renovation of and addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School
  • $19 million to build a new elementary school in the Cane Ridge area
  • $6 million to renovate Rosebank Elementary School
  • $4 million for an addition at Pennington Elementary School
  • $2 million to convert the unused southeast public library into an Early Learning Center for prekindergarten
  • $5 million to begin planning for the eventual renovation or reconstruction of Hillsboro and Hillwood High Schools, as well as Nashville School of the Arts

It also includes $35 million in spending for technology, new school buses and smaller district-wide projects.

MNPSConstruction.com is online now and will be updated monthly with new information and photos.

Oliver Middle Prep: redone & rededicated 10 years later to the day!

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It was back on October 28, 2004 that Oliver Middle School was first dedicated to the community.Ten years later – to the day – Oliver Middle Prep has been redesigned, reconstructed and rededicated.

Metro Schools are a mirror of the explosive growth that we have seen in Davidson County, especially in the very diverse neighborhoods of South Nashville. Oliver Middle Prep needed a massive new addition to be able to house nearly 900 students. Before the addition, 7 portable buildings were needed to handle the overflow. Thanks to a $3.7 million dollar appropriation from the city, more than 22,000 square feet was added to an impressive 111,000 square feet total.

The new construction included nine new classrooms, four offices, two group restrooms, storage rooms and an expanded parking lot. The eighth grade student ambassadors pointed out that they envy the new addition mostly because it has larger lockers for the newly added fifth and seventh grade hallways.

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The biggest addition of all is a HUGE new band room!

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This band room is bigger than most because nearly HALF of the student body is enrolled in band.

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Before this addition, if the entire band assembled together it would have violated fire codes.

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There are also ensemble rooms and smaller practice rooms which students say have the added benefit of being completely soundproof allowing them to play as loud as they want without disrupting anyone.

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The Oliver Band sign outside is also impressive. Look closely…

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It is made out of old sheets of music.

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Paw prints have been spray painted onto the floors to help keep the youngest bulldogs walking in the right direction. As my ambassador told me, “I ran into the wall several times when I was younger!”

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Now, like the band, the entire student body of Oliver Middle can work together again under one roof.

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TOUR: Rose Park Middle Prep’s amazing transformation fifty years in the making

Rose Park Middle Prep was built in 1965, but other than minor security and handicap accessibility upgrades, the building has remained much the same since the day it first opened. Fifty years later, this building has been completely remodeled and is BEYOND today’s current standards for safety, accessibility and green certification. Now the hallways are as bright as the students and staff after winning SO MANY AWARDS.

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One of the first things you notice when you walk into Rose Park is the massive 45 foot mural over the entranceway. This has been here since 2003 when it was commissioned from a local artist. They are of actual Rose Park students interacting with Ben Franklin, George Washington Carver, Jane Goodall, Albert Einstein and other notable scientists. During the renovation, Principal Robert Blankenship said one section started to fall down and they feared it would be lost. So they called in the original artist who showed how to reattach the work. Luckily, the work was painted on canvas and not the wall, so it could easily be reattached and saved from destruction.

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Thanks to a generous donation from local community supporters, the auditorium has new seating and a new sound system. New stage lighting will also be installed, just in time for the school’s first stage production in the refreshed auditorium this holiday season.

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The gym received new bleachers, paint and a refinished floor. I think the Rose Park Titans will be PROUD to call this home! WOW!

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The library is now beautiful and functional with a new digital learning center and cafe where students can eat in the library.

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The library is open to students any time during the day, and we’re told many of them “live” there. It’s easy to see why: it’s an attractive place to hang out with a few comforts that students may not even have at home – like these very popular bungee cord chairs.

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One thing you might not notice with the lights on, is that you can’t turn some of them off! That’s because they are solar powered. Even at night they glow from getting charged in the daytime. It’s no wonder this building is BEYONDGREEN” and has received LEED “SILVER” certification!

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And if you’re in the Rose Park library, don’t forget to stop by and say hi to their mascot “Pippin” the bearded dragon.

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The only building addition to Rose Park Middle is the new freezer, allowing for better service at breakfast and lunch.

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This school did not only NEED these upgrades, the students & faculty here have earned it, having won so many state & national awards for excellence. It truly is well deserved!

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Breaking ground at Waverly-Belmont Elementary

This time next year Waverly-Belmont Elementary will be open and serving hundreds of students.

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On Saturday, Mayor Karl Dean, members of Metro Council, Board of Education representatives, Metro Schools officials and future Waverly-Belmont families  broke ground on Waverly-Belmont Elementary. The plans are set to welcome students next school year.

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This historic school will get big addition and full facelift.

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School principal Kimber Halliburton is already hard at work designing the academic programming, recruiting parents, building a PTO and starting the process of hiring staff. WATCH:

You can learn more about the Waverly-Belmont PTO here.

Norman Binkley Elementary reborn for the 21st century

Norman Binkley was first opened in 1960, but even then the school was not big enough to handle the demand. Two additions were added in 1961, 1963 and 2006 – and even that didn’t meet the growing demand of South Nashville. Now Norman Binkley Elementary has been expanded once again.

Say goodbye to the portables, because Norman Binkley has been REBORN for the 21st century with a $6.5 million dollar remodeling project.

First up, the beautiful new entrance with a very practical purpose.

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The greatest safety feature starts here, where Principal James Urquhart says visitors now have to be buzzed into the building though a second set of doors, where before there was only one. There is also a new waiting area.

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The administration offices have been remodeled to allow more room for staff, counseling and a nurses office.

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The library is the most breathtaking with an expansive technology center…

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…large check out station for the librarian…

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…and this HUGE viewing area. All the bookshelves are on wheels, allowing them to be easily moved out of the way to allow larger assemblies inside the library for traveling shows and presentations.

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One of the biggest improvements adds an entire wing for the 4th grade. Before this expansion, four 4th grade classrooms, art, and music were all housed in portables. Now they are all under one roof! This added space has also allowed for a pre-K expansion at Norman Binkley.

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The art room is expansive with high ceilings.

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Music students don’t have to brave the weather to go to go to class and also have benefited from having all of their instruments in one room.

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Some of the most expensive improvements are hard to spot. The heating, air conditioning, electrical wiring, roofing and plumbing were all redone. Even the bathrooms are all new!

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Thanks to the great work of our construction team, this building is beyond “green” energy efficiency. It is built for LEED “SILVER” certificationThis building is now a beautiful, functional place for South Nashville students to learn and grow together.

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New studies give ideas for the future of Hillsboro and Hillwood High Schools

This past spring, Metro Schools’ officials commissioned two site studies of the Hillwood and Hillsboro high school campuses to consider all of the options for meeting their facility needs going forward. These studies are not yet finalized and are still in draft form. Local media obtained draft copies of both studies. When the studies have been finalized, they will be posted on the Metro Schools website for public viewing, along with details of how the community will be able to provide input before district administration makes a recommendation to the Board.

The decision to commission the studies was developed in consultation with the Board of Education’s Capital Needs Committee. The contract with the architectural firm was reviewed and approved by the Board on March 11, 2014.

Both Hillsboro and Hillwood are in need of renovation. They are included in Year One of the district’s capital master plan. Those renovations would require significant capital investment, $26 million for Hillwood and $29.9 million for Hillsboro. Before that much money is committed, district administration wants to consider all other ideas in addition to renovation that may better serve students and the school communities.

The studies outline multiple options for Hillwood and Hillsboro including:

  • Build a new Hillwood High School in Bellevue, adjacent to Bellevue Middle School. This site is the center of the Hillwood Cluster and much closer to home for many Hillwood students, who mostly live in Bellevue.
  • Relocate Hillsboro High School to the back of the existing campus with a new school facing Glen Echo Road.

Both of these studies need careful vetting by the Board, district administration, city planners, parents and neighbors of both schools. To that end, a thorough community engagement process will take place in both the Hillwood and Hillsboro communities. Only after community input is received and a traffic study is complete can these ideas move into consideration for the capital master plan.

It is important to remember that these are only ideas at this point. They are not plans, recommendations or even proposals. They are ideas to be considered alongside traditional renovation as the Capital Needs Committee works on an updated capital master plan this fall. Board members and district officials will work with the community to determine the best course of action moving forward.

Antioch Middle Prep Makeover: Expanding again with new upgrades

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Antioch Middle Prep is built around the oldest construction in Metro Schools. The first brick was laid at then Antioch High School in 1948 when Truman was just re-elected President and South Nashville was a mostly farm lands. Additions were added many times, but each time it was to handle the needs of this quickly growing community to the south.

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Today, the building has been transformed for the 21st century, with more space, a refreshed look, greater accessibility and even green certification. Safety has also been a  major focus of the remodel, with revised parking and a separate bus lane. The old front entrance and back door have switched places to the school entrance is no longer right on Blue Hole Road, which helps traffic flow.

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The changes are apparent when you step inside the grand new entranceway, which is now in the back of the building with an improved drop off zone.

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There are also expanded administration offices & a new secure waiting area as well.

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There are plenty of upgrades that you can’t see inside the walls, including new electrical, heating, air conditioning, & new plumbing. Most students may notice the biggest change of all: the cafeteria. The kitchen has been tripled in size and expanded to 4 serving lines. More students can now get served in less time, allowing them more time to eat.

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Antioch Middle Prep is now set to serve this growing community for many more decades to come.

What’s the latest on 12South’s new elementary school?

Waverly-Belmont school is on track to open as an elementary school to serve families in 12South, Belmont-Hillsboro and other surrounding neighborhoods in the fall of 2015. So where does the project stand right now?

Join us for a special meeting on the Waverly-Belmont project next Thursday, April 17, in the Board Room. Board representatives Michael Hayes and Will Pinkston will host the meeting, with Dr. Register and his team giving a full update.

We’ll give you a first look at the preliminary site plan, the proposed school zone and a full timeline for how the project will progress.

It’s a beautiful, historic school that’s served the neighborhood and the district for decades. Witnessing its revitalization will surely be exciting!

Waverly-Belmont School Project Update
Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.
Board Room at Central Office
2601 Bransford Avenue, in the back of the building at the Customer Service Entrance on Berry Road

Waverly Belmont

Adding classrooms and subtracting portables at A.Z. Kelley

“Peace out, portables!”
–A.Z. Kelley students and faculty

Students and teachers at A.Z. Kelley Elementary School in Cane Ridge are saying “so long” to five portables and “hello” to twelve new permanent classrooms.

They cut the ribbon on a brand new wing this week. The school, with more than 700 students, has added two first grade classrooms, two art rooms, four Special Education classrooms, one pre-k classroom and three second grade classrooms.

Take a look:

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Adding classroom space like this is a wonderful thing for students in crowded schools with lots of portables. It’s possible thanks to hard work of the Board of Education, Metro Council and Mayor’s Office, not to mention the planning and construction crews who actually build it.

Thanks to everyone who makes it possible for our students to have safe and comfortable learning environments!

School Shuffle: Rose Park Middle Magnet School

Where will I go to school next year? A few of our Metro schools and programs will be moving for the 2013-14 school year, temporarily or otherwise. To make sure you know where to go on the first day of school (August 1st – did we mention that already?), let’s do the School Shuffle:

We’re very fortunate in our district to have Mayor Dean, the Metro Council and the people of Nashville all support our district through funding for capital projects. The average age of the buildings in Metro Schools is 42 years old, and as we work to improve and update our schools and facilities, we sometimes have to move schools and programs to temporary facilities.

Rose Park Magnet Middle School, just recognized as one of the top performing schools in the nation, is one of those schools undergoing major renovations.

Rose Park (grades 5-8) is moving over to an empty Johnson School on 1200 2nd Avenue  South for the 2013-2014 school year. The move and wait will be worth it for students.

Rose Park will undergo an extensive renovation, expanding the school from 93,000 square feet all the way to 127,000. The project will completely remake Rose Park’s building, including mechanical, plumbing, electrical and fire protection.

The building was originally constructed in 1965, so these improvements will definitely modernize a growing school. After Rose Park has won SO MANY AWARDS recently and with enrollment on the rise, it deserves to be modernized.

Remember:

  1. Rose Park students will go to the Johnson School building starting August 1, 2013.
  2. Programming will not change. The school will remain a rigorous math and science magnet school with the same school choice population.
  3. The school is adding Chinese to its related arts program, including high school credit classes.
  4. Transportation plans are evolving, but they may include bus transportation for students in the Edgehill neighborhood.
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