Bossier Parish schools have seen a growth spurt in the past 10 years. That is an undisputed fact. That growth has prompted the renovation of current schools and construction of many new facilities to accommodate the number of students attending classes from pre-k to high school.
One particular school, Haughton Middle School, is planning on another expansion project with a brand new school in a new location. The current middle school was built in 1999 and is located on Highway 157 South. The new school will be located on Highway 3227 near the Allen Town Road intersection.
What is being referred to as the first three-story school in the entire parish, Haughton Middle School is projected to cost about $35 million with an expected completion date sometime between late 2015 and early 2016. The school is being built on approximately 30 acres and will accommodate 1,500 students in grades 6th thru 8th. Ground breaking ceremonies have not been scheduled yet. The school will be able to handle the increased traffic flow with 40 designated bus spaces, 200-plus vehicle parking spots and 500 spaces for event parking.
To factor in the growth rate for a five- and 10-year projection, you have to measure the enrollment numbers from previous years. According to Keith Norwood, Supervisor of Planning and Construction, the past five years have shown significant growth at HMS. In the 2010 school year they had 897; in 2011 they had 993; and in 2012 it was 1,035.
One of the major draws to Bossier Parish is its outstanding public school system, according to State Rep. Henry Burns, District 9. The rapid and unprecedented growth in Haughton and its outstanding schools has placed a heavy demand on current school facilities. Expanding classroom space and the support amenities has necessitated the need for additional facilities and campuses.
Once completed, HMS will have an academic wing, a commons area that will double as a dining area, and a new gymnasium better equipped to host tournaments more effectively, said Waylon Bates, HMS Principal. Bates also hopes community involvement will increase with the new seating capacity. The facility will have bleacher seating for 1,000 people with additional room for more bleachers and floor seating. The new school will provide facilities for sports practices, but all competition will remain at the high school.
Safety will always be priority for students, teachers and staff. Danny Dison, Bossier School’s Director of Security, says HMS will still have a full-time resource officer. Security cameras will be located throughout the building and the new design will enable additional security. All exterior doors will be locked throughout the school day and visitors will be channeled to the school’s front office and not allowed beyond that point without authorization.
D.C. Machen, Bossier School’s Superintendent, knows with increased enrollment comes increased teacher hires. In this case, one may anticipate additional teachers not only based on the possible continued growth in enrollment, but to meet the student growth that will come with the conversion of the existing HMS to a K-5th elementary school.
There are no dates set for the conversion of the existing HMS to an elementary school. No schools are expected to be closed in this conversion and growth process. It is expected that the new middle school will help relieve congestion experienced at T.L. Rodes, Platt and Princeton. Since the needs of an elementary school are different from a middle school, renovations will take place in the future to accommodate those needs.
By Caroline King