Beryl Henry expansion progressing
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Major components of the $4 million academic facilities expansion at Beryl Henry Elementary School are beginning to take shape on campus.

The first phase of the two-part project was completed in September after interior demolition in the main building made way for remodeled offices. The former library at BHE has been converted into central office space, with the former administrative offices remodeled for counseling services and a parent involvement center.

A new central entry portico has also been completed on the north side of the main building.

Phase Two work began in early September to set a series of 40,000-pound pre-fabricated concrete panels in place to construct a new multi-purpose area at BHE. Each of the 28-foot tall panels is 10 inches thick, providing a structure that will serve as a multi-purpose activity center and a community severe weather “safe room.”

Hope Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Transportation/Facilities Steve Bradshaw said the room is designed to accommodate 857 people during severe weather.

“The structure is being built using Federal Emergency Management Agency specifications,” Bradshaw said. “The safe room will be finished in May or June of 2017, along with the rest of the building.”

Phase Two work will also involve the construction of some 25,000-square feet of academic facilities space to include science and arts classrooms, plus space for other academic uses.

Once major construction is completed, metal buildings which have served as classroom and multi-purpose space for more than 30 years will be removed. Playground area will be expanded and new parking will be added.

The project is financed through the issuance of some $7.9 million in refinanced revenue bonds which will fund construction and retire series 2009/2012 school district bonds.

Stephen’s, Inc., of Little Rock, is bond advisor for the issue, and recently guided the board through an interest rate reduction on the bonds from 3.47 percent to 1.85 percent. The bond issue was approved by voters in 2015.