Bridge City school board officials Tuesday approved a preliminary design for a proposed elementary school to replace Sims and Hatton campuses – estimated to cost between $19 million to $20 million. 

The board will likely meet two or three times before final approval is considered. Construction could begin as early as fall and completed by December, 2010.

Of all the Bridge City campuses, Sims and Hatton were the hardest hit during Hurricane Ike. What is still unanswered, as Superintendent Jamey Harrison described it, is how much of an Ike recovery bill recently passed in the state Legislature can go toward the cost of a new school. 

If Bridge City gets what it put in for, it should be about $8 million.

To build the new school, the Hatton campus will be torn down.

Before voting, board members heard presentations by Golden Triangle architect Mark Magnuson, and Todd Taylor and John White of Woodville’s Owen Taylor engineering firm. 

The design takes in several teacher requests from previous discussions by the district’s Facilities Committee, and makes use of energy conservation, emergency issues related to disasters such as Ike and a natural gas generator which can power areas that unexpectedly lose electricity.

“Literally everything the teachers collectively brought in is designed in here,” Harrison said. 

In Tuesday’s preliminary proposal, students will check-in daily to a secure area to get admission badges, however, the facility can easily be exited in the event of a fire. 

Rather than buses going out twice on Farm Road 1442 (Roundbunch Road) as they do now to pick up kids at the elementary and intermediate schools, they would remain on school property until leaving district grounds to drop-off students. This would eliminate present traffic problems.

In addition to the obvious areas such as a gym, drop-zone, kitchen, life skills / special education area, library, main entrance, dining area with stage, counselor’s office and break rooms; other features include a computer lab and music room. The elevation for the school will most likely be about 14 feet, Magnuson said. 

At the request of several teachers, kindergarten classrooms will have separate restroom facilities, rather than two classrooms each sharing one – as with present-day Hatton. 

Teachers had also asked for storage rooms with easy-open, double doors – also part of Tuesday’s proposal.

Reviewing the dining area, Harrison said, “You’ll notice the stage is at one end instead of the side. We had many complaints about a stage at the side. Because it’s at the end, there’s really not a bad seat in the house.”

Board member Mark Anderson had several questions about air conditioning. 

“Our guys do a heck of a job when [the A/C] works, but when it doesn’t work it can be a misery,” he said.

Taylor said the system chosen would make use of outside air, cool it, recirculate it then exhaust is back out. Not only is that a required standard in schools but it also saves energy, he said. Also for energy conservation, he added, fluorescent lighting will be used throughout the entire school.

“It’s more efficient and they burn cooler,” he said.

The proposed school being a major undertaking, Harrison, Magnuson and Taylor all agreed there may be some snags down the road. 

“Whether or not anything’s going to flow the way we want to, we won’t know until we get into it,” Harrison said.

The proposed campus is based loosely on the overall design, engineering and building materials used for Kimmie Brown Elementary School in Dayton.