Tri-Conn Construction, and the company’s concrete contractor, poured footers (concrete slabs that support the foundation) Tuesday. Work on the walls is expected to start today.
Project manager Cason Conn said he anticipates having the project completed before the April deadline outlined in the contract.
“Now that we are off and running, we are going to do everything we can to finish early,” Conn said. “We are off to a good start so far.”
Conn said building the classroom to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for a safe room means using “a lot more concrete, steel and rebar.”
Bradley County Schools received a grant to build the classroom to these standards.
“The floor system is precast concrete and the room system is precast concrete, and all the masonry cells (for the walls) get filled with concrete,” Conn said.
The safe room is being built to withstand 200 mph winds and the pressure of an updraft.
Conn said the addition will look just like the rest of the school from the outside.
“We’re really excited about construction beginning at Walker Valley,” Bradley County Schools director Johnny McDaniel said.
He said the plans had been approved by the fire marshal, and they had been waiting on a building permit from the county.
The permit was received July 25.
“I think the extension on the cafeteria will probably go pretty quickly. I think the academic building will be a little slower, because it is more complex,” McDaniel said.
Project superintendent Carl Erikson said the crews will go back and forth between he two parts of the project.
The classroom addition will be a two-story, 13,000-square-foot space.
With classes starting back Aug. 7, Conn said a major priority is working around the school schedule. He said he has already been in conversation with school Principal Danny about scheduling.
“Our schedule is going to be very aggressive, but we made it very clear to our subcontractors and the people in the school that the school is going to be the priority,” Conn said.
Conn said crews will be working on weekends on some aspects to keep from disrupting classes. Conn said the project will also be mindful of school sporting events.
The cafeteria expansion is being funded through capital projects money from the school system’s budget. The school system is also modifying the entrance to the school during this project.
“Anyone going into the building will have to go into the office before they can go into the building,” McDaniel said.
Expansion at Walker Valley has been a topic of discussion for more than two years to accommodate a student population beyond the 1,400 maximum capacity for which the school was designed. To accommodate the growth in students population, computer labs and other areas were converted into classrooms and teachers had to change classrooms throughout the day. Cafeteria space issues were resolved by allowing students to eat anywhere in the building.