With Aiken High School getting closer to a new science and business building on the campus, North Augusta High School is beginning to move toward a similar project.
Bids are expected in the next few months for a science and technology facility that will be located on the left side of the campus, diagonally from the front entrance. The building also will include business classes.
Three years ago, the Aiken County Board of Education failed by a large margin to obtain voter approval for a $236 million construction bond for major work on six schools.
A successful referendum would have provided, in part, a new Aiken High on the same site, while the School District would have sought a new location for North Augusta High.
As an alternative, both schools are getting additions in multiple phases that will take at least 20 years or more to complete. The funds are coming through the district’s five-year construction program, as well as its debt service budget.
“The North Augusta site is much more challenging,” said Deputy Superintendent David Caver.
“I do think, once we have completed the phases, it will be a really nice school with some obviously dramatic changes. The first phase will bring out some of that.”
The existing topography on the campus results in a substantial drop-off behind the school. To accommodate the uneven land, and with limited space, the new building will feature a split plan, with a ground floor and a first floor that’s level with the existing building, said Donnie Love of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture.
That decision “resolved a touchy problem,” Caver said.
He added that the project budget is $12.5 million, and construction will take 18 months to two years to complete. Love is hopeful about the bid process, and pointed out that a recent project completed by his firm elsewhere attracted 18 contractors.
“We would love to have 18 bids,” Caver said.
According to the architectural firm’s site plan, the project will require extensive work to reshape the campus at the front of the school, including the roads and parking.
Seven business labs will be located on the ground floor, while the first floor will provide three groups of paired science classrooms. The building should provide the main facility with less congestion in the narrow hallways.
“The science classes and labs and business technology are the things most outdated now,” Caver said. “There is a huge difference in the classrooms, a nice addition.”