FAYETTEVILLE — Ceremonial shovels were used to turn over the dirt on May 26.

The heavy lifting will begin on or around June 9.

An initial groundbreaking ceremony was staged last Tuesday for upcoming construction work at Fayetteville PK-8 School. Renovations at Fayetteville and Valley PK-8 schools and Midland Trail and Oak Hill high schools are planned under a $15.2 million project funded by the School Building Authority ($13.2 million) and Fayette County Schools ($2 million).

Tuesday's ceremony occurred after an initial pre-construction meeting involving representatives from the school system, ZMM Architects & Engineers (project architect), Swope Construction (main contractor) and Skanska (clerk of the works), according to Tim Payton, the director of operations for Fayette County Schools.

A similar groundbreaking was held at Midland Trail High School on June 2. Other planned ceremonies are as follows:

Valley PK-8 — June 8, 9 a.m.

Oak Hill High School — June 9, 9 a.m.

"June 9, it looks like we'll be mobilizing ... that's the day it looks like we'll have things in place to start (at all four sites)," Payton said. "I'm glad that we're past the bidding process, I'm glad the contract is signed, and I'm glad that we're getting ready to break ground and get going."

Based on Swope's initial bid, Payton said the projects should wrap up by around March 22, 2021, although he thinks "it's actually going to be ahead of schedule. I don't have a crystal ball, but ..."

Below is a brief look at the planned work:

Fayetteville PK-8

A new administrative addition/safe schools entrance will be built, and current office space will be converted into classrooms. Also, a kitchen and cafeteria will be constructed.

A new activities entrance will also be created.

Midland Trail High

A safe schools entrance will be built, and the current school offices will be renovated into two classrooms. Some storage space will also result from the work.

A new auxiliary gym will be built, and some science labs may be renovated, as well.

Oak Hill High

An auxiliary gym will be built on campus. Also, the project will feature renovation of the auditorium, which will include new seating, new flooring, updated lighting and improved AV equipment.

The plan also calls for renovating some science labs.

Valley PK-8

A small safe schools entrance will be constructed. And, a portion of the project will be converting Career Technical Education spaces into PreK-K sections, creating kindergarten classrooms. Also, a cafeteria for kindergarten and pre-K students will be built. Another key portion of the plan will result in a CTE lab for the young children.

There will also be an indoor play space.

At all four schools, electrical upgrades will be completed.

Possible add-ons to the projects have been put out for bid, including extra science lab work at the two high schools, according to Payton. That could add in the vicinity of $1 million to the project cost, but they will only be done if it is decided enough contingency money is available, he said.

Incoming Fayette County Superintendent Gary Hough pointed to a "major transformation in Fayette County Schools" in the last four or five years, and "this is our next stage."

Adding on to earlier school construction, there were "elements everybody knew that we needed to add" to the buildings, including cafeterias and additional gym space.

"Right now, we're able to begin to enhance those buildings, to do what we've dreamed of doing for Fayette County for a long, long, long time," said Hough. "I'm glad to be a part of it (in his return to the school system beginning July 1)."

In remarks during the ceremony, Hough praised members of an "outstanding board of education" and said that "Fayette County's making progress."

"This is another significant step in Fayette County's ... return to leadership in West Virginia education," said Pat Gray, president of the Fayette County Board of Education.

Gray was joined by board vice-president Steve Slockett and members Marion Tanner and Gary Ray in helping break ground for the Fayetteville PK-8 project. Among others on hand were Anna Kincaid-Cline, associate superintendent of curriculum/technology/instruction, Fayetteville PK-8 Principal Melissa Harrah and representatives from ZMM Architects & Engineers (David Ferguson, architect, principal; FaLena Perry, construction administrator; and Chris Campbell, architect), Swope Construction (Hollie Massie, James Pennington and Amy Childress) and Skanska (Jason Pack and Sonny Miller).

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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