Morton provides Harlan Ind. construction update

Published 1:29 pm Friday, October 15, 2021

Click here to view the previous story and schematic designs for the Harlan Independent School District’s renovations.

In a recent Harlan Independent Board of Education meeting, Superintendent C.D. Morton gave an update on the school district’s massive $7 million renovation that began earlier this year.

Morton said part of the renovation included an update to the lights and heating/cooling system in the middle school, noting the new LED lights, HVAC and new ceilings being completed.

“As you move across the campus to the high school, work there is a little more extensive and is going to last throughout the school year and into next summer,” he said. “Some of the more noticeable stuff going on right now in the buildings are the bathrooms, and they haven’t been renovated since the ‘60s. So, there’s new restroom facilities.”

The gymnasium is also being equipped with handrails, fresh paint and new windows, on top of a brand new HVAC system.

“We have heating and cooling in the gymnasium now for the first time ever. With the teams that practice, particularly in the summer, it’s always been a challenge for them, so that’ll be great. We’re looking forward to getting our banners rehung,” Morton said. “We have a new bleacher system coming in, probably in a month, so before basketball season starts up. So, the gym will be totally renovated.”

Morton said crews are currently working in the high school three classrooms at a time routing new data wiring throughout the building, as well as replacing the old fire alarm system, new ceiling tiles, lighting and flooring. He added the HVAC system upgrades will not take place until the end of the school year to keep from disrupting school instruction.

“They’re going to continue their work to finish the ramp and the canopy that creates a walkway between the high school and new cafeteria addition,” he said. “Probably over the next couple of months, we will continue to see a little more work happening in front of the elementary school yard where the cafeteria is going to continue to extend out.”

Crews recently finished the new heating and cooling system for the auditorium, which also received a new roof, as well as the high school that had not been upgraded since 1995.

“The kitchen is totally upgraded, so it’s a total remodel of the kitchen. The dining room work will take place over the course of this year and into next summer,” he said.

With work already largely completed in the elementary and middle schools, Morton said the elementary school is waiting for the floor tiles to be completed after a lack of stock. The bathrooms inside the elementary school will also receive a complete makeover.

“Construction crews are working in the evenings because it’s a lot of work, sometimes even through the night, so we’re trying not to disrupt any type of learning going on in the classroom spaces,” he said. “We’re hoping to spend the rest of this year doing the vast majority of the work in the high school, and then wrapping up some loose ends at the elementary school and focusing their attention on the cafeteria, which we’re really excited to see them get done.”

Morton said the old cafeteria space was not well lit and “kind of drab looking,” but the new upgrades will enhance the dining area with new glass windows to be able to see outside on beautiful days.

“It’ll kind of create a different feel for the students and the families, and we’re excited to kind of get that little courtyard-type area completed with some of the canopies that are going come out in front of the buildings,” he said.

Morton said the $7 million project is not costing the school or the community more money because it has already been bonded and the project came in under budget, adding it is probably the single-largest construction investment in the history of the school district.