Lake Norman & Mooresville

Mooresville High finalizing plans for $40 million improvement project

The Mooresville High School administration is finalizing preparations for a long-discussed expansion and renovation project, with plans to begin preliminary construction in the coming week.

The roughly $40 million project will dramatically transform the school with several new classrooms and a performing arts center and athletic complex, as well as additional parking spaces.

With enrollment at Mooresville High expected to increase significantly in coming years, the project is “much needed,” said Larry Wilson, chairman of the Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education.

The district is moving quickly to begin the project, expecting to award a bid for the first phase of construction before the next school board meeting on June 9, said Todd Black, the district’s director of operations.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for June 5 at a baseball field behind the school, where preliminary construction is planned for the building to house the performing arts center and athletic complex. The district plans to place another baseball field on the other side of Magnolia Street.

Expected to cost nearly $18.5 million, the building will comprise 110,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet, including a second-story wing of classrooms that will feature skywalks connecting to the main building, dressing rooms and an auditorium featuring some 1,800 seats. For athletics, it will include basketball courts and fitness and sports medicine centers.

Construction is scheduled to begin in September, after the district awards another bid for the remaining five phases of the project, Black said. It is expected to finish in March 2017.

In addition to new construction, the school will undergo its share of renovations. Among them are a new main entrance and a major expansion of the cafeteria.

An annex on Magnolia Street will undergo a makeover, too, with plans for several classrooms that will house classes that are now offered off-campus at the N.F. Woods Advanced Technology & Arts Center. They include carpentry, HVAC and visual arts.

The renovations are expected to finish in the summer of 2017.

The project is part of a $131.5-million bond referendum Iredell County voters approved late last year to finance improvements to public schools. The plans also include demolishing the school’s auditorium to make way for more parking spaces and turning the gymnasium into a space for more classrooms. Erected around the same time as the high school in the 1950s, both buildings are in poor condition, Black said.

The project is moving forward as the high school administration expects enrollment to increase to about 2,500 students in the next five to 10 years, up from the current enrollment of nearly 2,000 students, Black said.

The high school last underwent major improvements in 2001.

District officials have discussed such improvements “in earnest” during the past five years, Black said. He added that county commissioners initially declined an earlier request by both districts to hold a bond referendum.

Before the November referendum passed, the Mooresville school district began laying the framework for the project, starting a design process it finished a little more than a month ago. Officials considered building a new high school, though that would have cost about $70 million to $75 million – far more than the planned project, Black noted.

Jake Flannick is a freelance writer. Have a story for Jake? Email him at jacobflannick@gmail.com.

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