An informal groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bridge City elementary school is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 5 at the site, directly in front of Bridge City Intermediate School, 1029 W. Roundbunch Road.

Superintendent Jamey Harrison said he and a few board members may make brief remarks, but the gist of the session will be “hard hats and shovels.”

“We’re excited to get started,” he said. “We just opened up bids the Tuesday before Christmas,” he said. “We haven’t awarded anything for subcontracting yet; we want to wait a little bit so we’ll better know what we’re dealing with … and hopefully in 13 to 17 months we’ll have a brand new school.”

As of press time Tuesday, Harrison said Daniels Building and Construction in Beaumont was moving crews into the area. Daniels is building the new West Orange-Stark elementary school and did repair work on Bridge City’s high school and intermediate campuses after Hurricane Ike.

Board members voted this past summer to demolish Sims and Hatton, the schools most damaged of all the district’s campuses in the aftermath of Ike. Cost is estimated between $19 million to $20 million funded by $8.6 million provided by the state (awarded in the last legislative session), and reimbursements from the district’s insurance company and FEMA. Also that summer, the district retained Golden Triangle architect Mark Magnuson, who subcontracted Woodville’s Owen Taylor engineering firm for mechanical and electrical work. 

It’s still not clear what will be done with Sims, Harrison said. The building is presently being used for storage purposes. 

“We’ll decide on that when we get a little more into construction,” he said. “I’d like to sell it, to be honest with you, but I’m not sure we’d find a buyer.”

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 of the proposed campus include a computer lab and music room. The elevation for the school will most likely be about 14 feet. The school will also make use of a natural gas generator in the event of a power loss.

Once under operation, 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. 

Also, to eliminate traffic problems, rather than buses going out twice on Roundbunch as they do now to pick up kids at the elementary/intermediate schools, they would remain on school property until leaving district grounds to drop-off students.

Although some sections of the new campus are based loosely on Kimmie Brown Elementary School in Dayton, Harrison said most of the design is substantially different from Brown and more an original design by Magnuson.