While standing in the cavernous spaces that will soon be Jefferson City's second public high school, Capital City High School's hard hat and construction vest-wearing principal said he's looking forward to the opportunities presented by the new building.
As he walked past classrooms Thursday that are, for now, mostly just concrete floor spaces vertically outlined by metal framing studs, CCHS Principal Ben Meldrum noted Simonsen 9th Grade Center — where he is currently the principal — has 36 classrooms.
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Though CCHS is planned to open at Mission Drive off Missouri 179 in August with only enough classrooms and other facilities finished to serve the freshmen and sophomores at first, the 40 classrooms that Jefferson City Public Schools' second high school will open with will still be an immediate increase over what Meldrum has to work with now.
Meldrum said he's particularly looking forward to having cafeteria space that's "not so restricted with the layout" and having full-school assembly space available in the main gym.
The rest of CCHS's classrooms, its gyms and auditorium are anticipated to be completed in December 2019.
Meldrum said a majority of Simonsen's staff would follow him and his fellow school administrators to CCHS, and he would love to get staff out to the site in the spring to view it — perhaps some students, too, conditions at the active construction site permitting.
Nabholz Construction Project Manager Mitchell Fuemmeler said approximately 40 percent of CCHS has been built in financial terms. That translates to approximately $27.7 million worth of the second high school's $69.3 million construction budget, JCPS chief financial and operating officer Jason Hoffman reported Thursday.
Hoffman said the combined budget for the school district's two high school projects is $144.2 million, and $144.7 million is available. He added the renovation budget for Jefferson City High School is approximately $54.2 million.
Hoffman said the district is budgeting for a worst-case scenario — meaning they hope not to have to use all of the contingency and insurance funds that have been budgeted, which for the latter, could mean a few hundred thousand dollars in savings.
Fuemmeler and Site Superintendent Justin Bolten said they have worked on projects of the same scale before, but they've been impressed by the pace of work at CCHS.
Fuemmeler, Bolten and Mickey Starkey — who is Nabholz's senior superintendent over both of JCPS' high school project sites — have watched the CCHS site progress from rock being blasted and trees removed just 11 months ago to what's visible now.
Fuemmeler said 400,000 cubic yards of rock were blasted, and cut-down trees were mulched to be used for stormwater control.
Bolten said more blasting will happen in the coming weeks to finish creating the level terrain for CCHS's outdoor practice fields.
On the notes of storms, rock and athletic facilities, CCHS's storm shelter will not be in a gym, as planned for Jefferson City High School. Instead, the storm shelter has been located on the lower level of the building's east side, tucked into the hill on which the school stands and from which its footprint has been carved.
Hoffman said it made sense to use the natural protection available, and said there's enough room in the storm shelter for all of the school's students and staff.
In addition to its emergency purpose, the shelter will also hold CCHS's wood and welding shops and wrestling, dance, locker and weight rooms.
Fuemmeler said the storm shelter would be still be accessible before the classrooms inside it are completed by January 2020.
Bolten said 95 percent of the school building is now at least temporarily enclosed from the elements, and he hoped the permanent heating system would be online in March.
For now, Bolten and Fuemmeler said layers of clothing and continuous work are the best ways to stay warm inside the building — parts of which still let in Thursday's biting cold wind.
Fuemmeler said a lot of pipe and ductwork connection work is happening, with most of the classroom sprinkler system done.
Bolten added half of the brickwork is done, windows are being installed, sheet rock work is starting, and the majority of the school's parking lots and its sidewalks will be completed in the spring.
CCHS already has a paved parking lot on its north side that's currently home to pickup trucks and pallets of bricks adjacent to Nabholz's office trailer.
Fuemmeler said there are currently 110 workers on site, representing 12-20 contractors on any given day.
JCHS renovations including the current gym, cafeteria, kitchen, commons, administrative offices and Nichols Career Center shop classes are expected to complete in summer 2019, with final classroom renovations anticipated to be complete January 2020. The connector between JCHS and Nichols and the new practice gym and storm shelter are anticipated to be complete in October 2019.