Phase one construction starts at BHE
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Summer school on the Beryl Henry Elementary School campus got off to a noisy start as crews from general contractor The McDougall Group, of Texarkana, and landscaping contractor Bobo and Bain, of Hope, started work on a $4 million academic/activities expansion at the campus.

Interior demolition in the main building at BHE has passed the demolition phase with form-in work for relocated and remodeled offices under way on Tuesday, according to Steve Bradshaw, assistant superintendent for transportation and facilities.

“There is a lot to do because the interior has to be ready by August for the start of school,” Bradshaw said.

Consequently, once asbestos abatement has been completed on each segment of the remodel, form-in work begins immediately, he said. Bradshaw said work has progressed rapidly this week on the conversion of the former library to central office space, but will be slowed by the need to cut through the concrete floor to complete plumbing work.

The former principal’s office is being converted into a parental involvement center and counselor’s office, he said.

Bradshaw said that summer school students are in classes inside the main building, but most of the noise will be confined to areas of the building where there are no students. He said work restoring and replacing flooring tile is also nearing completion in the central building.

The McDougal Group is the construction contractor for the interior remodel and the expansion construction. Bobo and Bain is responsible for the removal of timber on the south side of the grounds, Bradshaw said.

Bobo and Bain personnel said Tuesday they expected to be finished with tree removal by Wednesday. The company will clear the timber and is expected to transport it for sale as either lumber or pulp, Bradshaw said.

He said the timber removal was written into the general contract because the age of the trees involved is such that they are not prime lumber timber, and the cost to the district to remove the trees and stumps was a break-even proposition at best.

“And, we don’t have the kind of equipment that you really need to do that,” Bradshaw said.

Once the first phase projects have been completed, TMG will move into the second phase to begin construction of some 25,000 square feet of academic space and 3,000 square feet of multipurpose space.

Second phase construction is expected to require the bulk of the 2016-2017 school year. Once that phase is completed, metal buildings which have served as classroom and multipurpose space for more than 30 years will be removed and playground equipment installed and parking expanded.

The current project is financed through the issuance of some $6 million in revenue bonds, including the retirement of series 2009/2012 bonds, all of which the Hope School Board recently voted to refinance to reduce an already attractive 3.47 percent interest rate as bond market rates turn more favorable this summer, according to the district’s financial advisor, Stephen’s, Inc., of Little Rock. The bond refinance was ratified by voters in 2015.