GULF SHORES — With work to finish the new STEAM lab at Gulf Shores Elementary School scheduled to be completed July 19, city officials now plan to go ahead with the addition of eight more …
GULF SHORES — With work to finish the new STEAM lab at Gulf Shores Elementary School scheduled to be completed July 19, city officials now plan to go ahead with the addition of eight more classrooms.
The Gulf Shores City Council was scheduled to vote Monday, July 11, to amend the construction contract with Ben Radcliffe to add the new classrooms at a cost of $616,677.
City Administrator Steve Griffin said the addition will help relieve crowding on the elementary campus.
"The elementary school is the one that's busting at the seams," Griffin said. "Since the inception of the city school system, that's grown by close to 200 students compared to the other two campuses."
Noel Hand, city public works director, said the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, or STEAM, lab center should be completed in time for teachers to move in the next week.
"We'll be completed with substantial completion July 19," Hand said. "We'll have the state come in and do inspections and hopefully the teachers will be able to come in and outfit their classrooms July 20."
The STEAM lab will include two laboratory centers for science and technology instruction and five classrooms for first through fifth-grade students.
The new addition will be located to the east of the STEAM lab and will include the eight classrooms and an aquarium, Hand said.
The new site includes the area where elementary and middle-school students board buses. Hand said that area will have to be modified before the start of the school year in August to allow students to use the buses while construction is going on.
The canopy that covers the boarding area and sidewalks on the east side of Gulf Shores Elementary will be moved.
"Once school starts, they're going to need the kids from the middle school to get to the bus loop," Hand said. "They need to have a covered structure to be able to get to the bus loop."
The new addition will also include an aquarium designed to teach students about the marine life and Gulf environment.
"The aquarium will be utilized to teach the basics of the local marine environment, the marine life in the aquarium will be species native to the Gulf Coast, but the community donations and funds from the school system will reimburse for this aquarium," Hand said.
Students will be able to walk around the aquarium to study the exhibit from both sides of the tank.
The aquarium will cost $187,058. Hand said the school system will reimburse the city for the cost of that part of the project and will pay for the aquarium with community support.
The total cost of the original STEAM lab project was about $4.08 million. The eight-classroom addition will increase construction costs to almost $4.7 million, Hand said.
Engineering costs will increase from $420,511 to $487,297 with the addition.
Griffin said approving a change order in the original contract with Radcliffe will allow work to be completed by the start of the 2023-24 school year.
"With Noel and the architect jumpstarting this, it gets us on site to do all the site preparation work for the brick and mortar to go up earlier in the fall," Griffin said.