Lee County will add six classrooms at Guntown Middle

GUNTOWN – When students return to Guntown Middle School this fall, they will have some additional space.
The school is adding six classrooms this summer to ease crowding at the 775-student sixth- to eighth-grade school.
“At this point, every broom closet we’ve got has somebody teaching in it,” Guntown Principal Steven Havens said. “This will give us some elbow room and some nicer facilities. Some of our buildings are dated and not meeting the needs of the modern classroom.”
The new classrooms at Guntown are the most noticeable of the Lee County School District’s summer construction projects.
Lee County also will replace 144 window air-conditioning units throughout the district with central air conditioning. It will renovate the agricultural building on the north end of Shannon High School’s campus to make four new classrooms.
The projects will mostly be funded by $3 million the district already has borrowed under the federal stimulus Qualified School Construction Bonds program.
The money was borrowed at less than 1 percent interest.
The six classrooms at Guntown will cost the district about $720,000 and are being built by Burton Builders. They will not be completed when school begins during the first week of August, but should be ready during the first semester, said Lee County facilities manager Johnny Green.
The classrooms are being added to the school’s newest building, the one that also currently houses the front office. That building will be expanded to the south.
Havens said one of the school’s two sixth-grade sections will move into the new classrooms. Seventh-grade classes will then move out of the school’s oldest building and into the rooms vacated by those sixth-graders.
The rooms the seventh-graders had been using will be used for extra meeting space. It will also give the school space to do mediation with struggling students.
The 5,800-square-foot addition will also create an office for the school’s bookkeeper and its secretary, who have been housed in a partitioned-space located in a hallway.
Green said the construction is necessary because the district has experienced so much growth in the Saltillo and Guntown area.
“When the big spurt hit several years ago, most of those families had younger children, and they have now progressed their way into middle school,” Green said. “They did not have a single available room, and because of that, we felt like it was a top priority.”
Havens said Guntown’s enrollment was about 715 last year and that it will increase by about 60 students this year.
The replacement of the window units throughout the district will be done by Siemens with the use of local vendors. It will cost about $2.5 million. The goal is to have those units ready in August, Green said.
District maintenance workers will work on the renovation of the Shannon High School agricultural building.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio