All summer, Denison Independent School District has been in a race against time. The District majorly renovated two campuses, built a new campus and renovated its stadium. With the start of school on September 2, it seems the District has completed all of these projects just in time.
“We are down to the last couple of days, and things are coming together,” said Superintendent Henry Scott. “We knew that it was going to be very tight with the present middle school and with the intermediate school and the stadium.”
In 2011, Denison passed an $80 million bond project to build a new high school and renovate the existing high school, middle school and its elementary campuses. The construction and renovation will totally reorganize the District: the old high school building will house seventh and eighth grade students and fifth graders will move out of the District’s elementary schools and into the old middle school with the sixth grade. This consolidation allowed the District to shut down two elementary schools.
“We knew that this summer was going to be very, very stressful, because of all the moves we had to make,” Scott said. “We had to almost totally renovate the old high school to accommodate the middle school and the old middle school to accommodate the intermediate school. And we only had three months to do all of that.”
There were a few unexpected setbacks over the course of the project, including the discovery of a much larger amount of asbestos in the soon-to-be-christened Henry Scott Middle School.
“We knew there was asbestos in the school, but we had no idea the extent of it,” Scott said. “The old high school was full of it.” Abating this asbestos added time and expense, but Scott said the renovations were still able to stay on schedule.
The renovation of Munson Stadium, a separate $6 million dollar project largely funded by community donations, has seen delays as well. The facility’s dedication ceremony was pushed back a week because of weather delays from a unusually stormy summer. But Scott said the stadium will be ready to host its first football game on Thursday just as planned.
“Not that we will have every single thing completed,” Scott added. “There will still be some punch-list kind of items that we will have to take care of.”
Those items include odds and ends like landscaping, blacktop work, and the inevitable hiccups associated with new construction. The fountain in front of the stadium, for instance, is not expected to be quite operational yet.
“It’s just little things like that that will have to be done within the first week or 10 days of school,” said Scott.
In the meantime, Scott said he spent Wednesday personally visiting all the campuses where construction was taking place. He said crews will still be working over the weekend, waxing the floors and putting on finishing touches.
“But when school opens up early Tuesday morning,” he said, “we will be ready for students.”