JENNINGS — The construction of a new Jennings elementary school will move one step closer to reality with bid opening for the project set for next week.
Superintendent Kirk Credeur said Thursday bids will be opened at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the band room at Jennings Elementary School.
"We are very excited to see how those bids come in and hope that we have some very competitive bids and move forward with that," Credeur said. "It seems like it has been a long time coming, but we are actually right on our scheduled timeframe."
Once the bid is approved and the contract is finalized, a groundbreaking ceremony can be held, Credeur said.
"And there will be boots in the yard over at the property very soon so we are very excited about that," he said.
The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2022.
Taxpayers approved a $29.5 million bond issue and a separate half-cent sales tax to fund the project in March 2019. It will combine the current Jennings Elementary School and James Ward Elementary School to a single campus.
Plans for the new school call for construction of a two-story, 133,800-square-foot facility to be located on a 20-acre site on the west side of La. 26 south in Jennings.
The school will ease overcrowding of the two elementary schools, eliminate use of portable buildings and offer more space for learning and traffic flow, according to Credeur. The new school will also provide for increased security and more efficient operations to save time and money.
It will be able to accommodate 1,200 students in pre-K through sixth grades.
Plans call for 74 classrooms including special education and speech, a library, cafeteria with two serving lines, a nurse's station and administrative offices. A stage, gym and multiple-purpose space will provide a large assembly area which can be separated into smaller sections.
The first floor will include classrooms for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students and space for special education and speech therapy. Classrooms for older students will be located on the second floor.
Other features will include a double-lane vehicle drop-off for 170 vehicles, visitors parking and a covered play court for outdoor physical education classes or recess during inclement weather.
According to the plans, a fence will be placed around the perimeter. Two controlled locked gates will also be placed on the drop-off lanes. Playground areas will also be fenced in. Security doors and cameras will also provide additional security.
Four separate playgrounds will be provided with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten having their own play areas. First- and second-graders will share a playground with third- through sixth-graders sharing a play area.
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will also have restrooms attached to their classrooms and will exit to their individual classrooms to the playgrounds.
Restrooms will have motion sensor lights, toilets and faucets. Special features are also being designed for sound control, air quality, lighting, fire safety and more efficient cleaning and disinfecting.
The School Board is working with the state Department of Transportation and Development to create a traffic plan for the area.
Current plans include a longer turn lane to pull traffic off La. 26 at speed and not have them slow down to enter the school. Vehicles will slow down after they exit the highway.
If a traffic light is installed, vehicles will pull off of the highway before the traffic light so traffic going to the school will not be backed up, Creduer said.
All students will either be transported to and from school by bus or passenger vehicle. No students will be allowed to walk.