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Ground broken for Hallettsville High School construction projects

By Sonny Long
Sept. 15, 2010 at 4:15 a.m.

Jo Ann Bludau

BY THE NUMBERSMajor Expenses, Hallettsville High School construction project

$8.37 million - New construction

$1.55 million - Major renovations

$630,000 - Central plant

$280,000 - Demolition

$270,000 - Site Development

$263,000 - Furniture, fixtures, equipment

SOURCE: Hallettsville Independent School District

HALLETTSVILLE - In May, voters in the Hallettsville school district approved a $12.7 million bond election for construction projects at Hallettsville High School, the first bond passed for the school district since 1956.

On Sept. 8, a groundbreaking was held for the new animal science lab.

Jo Ann Bludau, who became superintendent in Hallettsville in the summer of 2007, said she attended about 20 meetings - service organizations, church groups and others - prior to the bond election to inform voters about the projects.

"The key was educating the community on how their tax dollars are being spent," she said. "The school board is pleased that we are moving forward."

Ranging reporter Sonny Long visited with Bludau in her office, that will be relocated as part of the project, to discuss the construction.

Q: Talk about the process involved. Facility improvement projects don't happen overnight.

A: We formed a committee of teachers, parents, board members, other interested community members to look at our current facilities to determine what our main needs are. One of the main areas is the existing high school facilities. We needed some upgrades and as far as space, we've been tight in many areas. They were constructed back in the 1930s and '40s.

Q: What areas are you looking at improving there?

A: The high school classrooms. Demolishing and redoing the regular classrooms and added new science labs. Many of our science labs are outdated. Also, adding an animal science lab and expanding our welding shop. And adding a cafeteria with a stage that can be used as a multi-purpose room.

Q: What about timetables?

A: The groundbreaking for the Ag complex was Sept. 8. The plan is to do the renovations and add the additions through December. Then our students should be able to start utilizing those facilities. Then the construction on the high school classrooms will begin in January and that should be about a year of work. So in December 2011 they should be finishing the core classrooms. Then we are looking at renovating some of the existing high school structures in the spring of 2012 - relocating the high school offices, demolishing the current administrative offices and putting the business offices and putting them in that older structure. Everything should be finished in April 2012, so when we start school in the fall of 2012 everything should be in place.

Q: Anything else included in the project?

A: The existing administration building will be demolished and will be additional parking for elementary parents or others during special events. We also added a little additional parking area on some new property.

Q: How gratifying was it that the bond was approved by the voters?

A: Most people were shocked that the bond passed. Those people who have young children or have a vested interest in the school district were excited. I was really happy to see a lot of former students equally excited about the opportunity to give the kids a safer, better learning environment, to give the teachers a safer place to teach. It's very exciting. I can feel the energy in the air. The students are excited. The teachers are excited.

Q: What is the potential impact of the projects on the community?

A: When new families move to this community, they want their kids to be in an appropriate learning environment where they can get the best education possible. We need to create the best schools that we possibly can. A lot of that has to do with getting the best teachers and sometimes attracting the best teachers has to do with bringing people into a situation where they like where they are working.

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