Next year, students and teachers will move into the newly-constructed Burroughs-Molette Elementary, a 130,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art school building.
Students will sit in brand-new desks in freshly-painted classrooms, walk down its long halls and eat under the wide windows of the high-ceilinged cafeteria.
Right now, though, the building’s six wings are covered in construction dust, along with scattered tools and work supplies as contractors spend their days walking up and down its halls, wiring lights, painting walls and installing the site’s geothermal system.
The new Burroughs-Molette Elementary, which is being constructed directly behind the current school, is set to be completed before Christmas this year.
“See the light at the end of the tunnel down there?” said Al Boudreau, executive director of operations for Glynn County Schools, pointing down a 740-foot hallway to sunlight streaming in on the other side of the massive school.
On a walk-through of the construction site with The News this week, Boudreau pointed out the stages of work going on throughout the building and described how the school will look once completed.
“This whole school is going to be beautiful,” he said.
The new school dwarfs the current one in size. The current school is about 90,000 square feet.
The school building will house Burroughs-Molette Elementary, as well as the FACES and Leaps and Bounds preschool programs.
Five wings hold classroom space, and a sixth wing houses the cafeteria, gym and administrative offices.
The school site will have a geothermal system, a water-source heating unit that uses the ground as the condenser to cool the air. A similar system was installed at the new Brunswick High School and contributes to significant savings, Boudreau said.
“It’s expensive to install up front, but you get your money back fairly soon,” he said. ”… Over the life of the equipment, you save millions of dollars.”
The plan is to move into the new school over the students’ winter break, allowing them to begin the new semester in the new building.
Boudreau told school board members at a facilities committee meeting Thursday that construction work seems to be about three weeks behind schedule.
“Hopefully they catch that up in the next two or three weeks, to get us back on track for our Christmas-break type of move in,” Boudreau told the school board.
The school building shares some features with Brunswick High School, the most recent new school built by the school system.
Two sets of doors lead into the school at the main entrance. The second set of doors are electronically locked, and visitors must be allowed in by a person at the front desk.
There will also be ample parking at the new school.
A new elementary school hasn’t been built in Glynn County in more than a decade, and an old elementary school hasn’t been replaced in nearly 20 years.
Goodyear Elementary was the last elementary school in the system to be torn down and replaced, in 1999. Sterling Elementary was built in 2007, as the 10th elementary school.
Other schools have been significantly renovated or built in that time. Students moved into the new Brunswick High in 2014.
“Each one we do, we do a little bit better,” Boudreau said.
The original plan, Boudreau said, was to only renovate Burroughs-Molette, which was built in the 1960s.
“In the long run, it was more practical to build a new school versus trying to renovate that one and use it at the same time,” he said.
The overall goal to uplift the school’s importance in its community has remained unchanged, he said.
“We didn’t want it to leave the community,” Boudreau said. “We were hoping that this would be the hub of this area down here. It gets a lot of activity. That cafeteria over there is used an awful lot.”
McDonald Construction Company was hired to oversee the project, which has a construction budget of about $24.3 million. The overall budget of the project is about $28.5 million.
Earlier this year, Boudreau met with the school’s PTA to show them the plans for the new school. But reviewing a construction plan on paper barely compares to walking through the new school site, he said.
“The excitement level was pretty high,” Boudreau said. “… Looking at a plan, then coming over here and seeing this, is two different things.”
Asbestos abatement will begin in the current school as soon as the students and teachers move out. Then most of the school will be torn down, except for a single wing that will be saved and used as a new center for the Boys & Girls Club.
“It’s going to be an awfully nice school,” Boudreau said. “I hope the community will embrace it and be proud of it. That was kind of the whole idea.”