The Commercial Appeal (June 6, 2018)
On Monday, city leaders, school board members, faculty and residents celebrated the groundbreaking for Bartlett High School’s renovation project.
Parts of the building are more than 100 years old, and the last improvements were made 40 years ago.
“When you have an auditorium that was built in 1917 and a gym that was built in 1950, you have so many ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance issues and space issues,” Bartlett City Schools Superintendent David A. Stephens said.
The renovation is expected to cost $60 million and will include space for arts, technology, special education and athletics.
“Some of the buildings will be completely demolished and rebuilt, and some will go through an extensive renovation,” said Jason Sykes, Bartlett High’s communications, volunteer and outreach coordinator. “The outside facades will be completely redone, buildings will be connected, there will be one main focal entry point and improvements to the cafeteria, library and main office.”
The project also will include a commons area, new theater, classrooms, labs, football turf, and track and athletic complex, among other improvements.
“The project will be in phases,” Sykes said. “We’re anticipating two to three years, from start to finish.”
According to the current project schedule, the classrooms in Building W, the school’s current central office location and the CTE (Career and Technical Education) manufacturing lab, auto shop and classrooms will be finished first.
Flintco and Linkous Construction Co. Inc. are handling construction and working with Fleming Architects.
Plans to renovate the school have been a priority for almost three years.
“When Bartlett took over the schools, it was pretty evident in taking that over, that this building and this campus in particular needed renovation,” Sykes said. “It needed some upkeep and had some issues that needed to be addressed instead of making patches over the years.”
Stephens said questions arose about whether the aging facilities were capable of housing students or providing a safe space for students to maneuver.
The school’s current capacity is 2,000. Last year’s student enrollment was 1,950. The project will accommodate 2,250 students in grades 10-12, the projected enrollment for the 2022-23 school year.
Bartlett Ninth Grade Academy will remain in its current location.
There were other options for improving Bartlett High School, including building a new school or moving to another location, but the renovation was the best fit, officials said.
“This was the most economic and feasible,” Stephens said. “Instead of going out and building a new $100 million school, we decided to keep what we have and keep its historical significance.”
Sykes hopes the improvements will cater to the needs of students and faculty.
“I hope this renovation project will better meet the needs of our students,” he said. “Bringing them a campus that will facilitate better learning, collaboration and a safe environment for them. It’s also good for the city of Bartlett and brings back that renewed sense of pride.”