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Local district breaks ground on high school additions, renovations – Beaumont Enterprise


Work is starting on $36.92 million in bond projects for Hamshire-Fannett ISD.

School district administrators, board members, faculty, staff and students gathered Monday to break ground on a project that will serve HFISD students for years to come.

In 2020, voters passed a $36.92 million bond slated to update the district’s open and aging high school campus. 

“It is a special day,” said school board President Chad Blanchard. “There’s a little bit of sadness I guess sometimes because there’s a lot of memories here at the school for a lot of people in the community, as well as a lot of board members that are sitting here.”

But Blanchard, who graduated from the school in 1990, said new memories will be made at the renovated campus, including the groundbreaking itself.

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“I am proud to say that this has been in the works (for) a long time,” he said. “When I was going to school here, the buildings were kind of past their need. It’s a big deal in our community to pass a bond. We’re just a little bitty community and it takes a lot of money to spend the kind of money we need to do the things that this campus (needs).”

The process began in 2019 and was initially prompted by safety concerns. 

“There are probably nine different structures (on the campus),” HFISD Superintendent Dwaine Augustine told The Enterprise. “The most safe environment is to have everybody under one roof, so to speak. That’s how the initial conversation began.”

Augustine also said buildings on campus built in the 1950s and are now “significantly aged.”

“Given the safety concerns, the aging, the board felt that it needed a needs assessment,” he said. “It started with the needs assessment, from those discussions, what we found out is, yeah, we do have some aging issues and there’s some things we need to take care of. That’s when the board decided to call for a bond.”

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The $36.92 million was one of two propositions on the ballot in 2020. The other was a $1.48 million proposal for a new football concession facility, which ultimately failed that year.

Voters did pass the $1.48 million bond in 2021.

The expansive high school additions and renovations project includes the demolition of six free-standing buildings on campus.

“We’re going to replace all the square footage from those six free-standing structures and connect everything,” Augustine said. “So, we’ll still have some older parts of the building but we’ll have a lot of new spaces as well.”

Currently, covered outdoor walkways connect each building. Augustine said after construction is complete, essentially all of those covered outdoor walkways will be an indoor hallway.

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“It’s fully enclosed — the safest school that you can get,” he said.

While Monday’s gathering was the official celebration of work beginning, some construction has already begun.

The gym — one of the buildings constructed in the 1950s — is being gutted, with window panes taken out and older, decaying wood visible to passersby.

In his remarks before the ground breaking, Augustine gave thanks to current students who are having to and will continue to deal with the ongoing construction for the time being.

“Our kids will be going through some growing pains, as you can see, over the next year, because it’s going to be an inconvenience,” he said. “But they’ve been troopers so far and you know, just like kids always do at HF, they make it through.”

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There will be minimal disruption to some classrooms while construction is ongoing, Augustine said.

“We have portables and so those classes will be there until our current library will be renovated,” he said. “We have approximately seven classrooms that’s going to make up that old space. Those will be done this summer and then we’ll be able to take our portables, move them into those spaces. So, it’d be a minimum disruption.”

Though various types of projects across the country are being delayed or canceled due to the increase in the cost of labor and materials and some shortage supplies, Augustine said the district already has contracts in place and those rising costs aren’t a concern for them at this point.

“We’ve already dealt with the escalation of costs,” he said. “Right now, the project that’s going to go on here, we know it’s going to happen.”

Once construction is complete, Augustine said students will have enhanced opportunities, particularly in the campus’ new career and technical education building.

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“We’re going to have programs in this space that would be able to be done in a way that we can’t run now,” he said. “We’ll have enhanced, for example, welding facilities that we don’t have now. We’ll have enhanced construction facilities that we don’t have now.”

Augustine said the building will provide space for programs that previously didn’t have any, such as health science and robotics. 

“It’s exciting,” Augustine said. “It’s giving the community what it asked for and as long as you can do that, it’s exciting. What we know is that once it’s done, the kids will enjoy it and it’s going to enhance the learning that’s going to go on.”

Augustine said the project is expected to be completed by July 31, 2023.

“It’s a great day to be a Longhorn,” Blanchard said.

RELATED: Photos from the groundbreaking

olivia.malick@hearst.com

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