Thanks to Millage Increase, Projects Under Way to Address Conway's School Needs

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 12:00 am  

The construction projects for Conway Public Schools, which will provide needed additional space for students and teachers, are being conducted in a sustainable manner.  

Conway voters approved a millage increase in September 2010 that will finance the construction of a new elementary school and the reconstruction of Conway High School-West. In addition, Sallie Cone Elementary will transition into a preschool center and an adult education center.

“Student growth and general population growth in Conway has created a need for a new high school building and a new elementary school,” said Dr. Greg Murry, superintendent of Conway Public Schools. “We’re pleased that Conway voters made this possible.”

The new elementary school will be located on Old Military Road. The $15 million structure will be modeled after Woodrow Cummins Elementary, which was built in 2008, and will be completed next summer.

The $40 million Conway High School-West reconstruction project will be completed in two phases. The first phase, which involves the construction of a three-story classroom building between the current building and Prince Street, is under way and is projected to be completed in July 2012.

Murry said that the reconstruction of CHSW could be considered “the most significant project the district has undertaken,” as the current “pod” building was built in 1968 as the result of a federal grant.

“Because the current building was originally built as an open classroom, it had to be modified and adjusted in order to create classrooms with walls,” Murry said. “However, it still does not lend itself to effective classroom instruction and is nearing capacity.

“The new facility will provide our students and teachers with appropriate and adequate classroom space and will update and expand our technological capabilities.”

The new classroom building has a planned square footage of 165,000, which compared to the current structure, provides an additional 94,260-SF of space for classrooms, science laboratories, office space and a lecture hall. The new facility will replace the pod building, which is nearing capacity at 70,740-SF.

Phase two of the CHSW reconstruction project has a scheduled completion date of July 2013. This phase includes the construction of a new cafeteria, the demolition of the current pod building and the addition of walkways to connect all buildings on the campus.

Nabholz Construction Co. is the construction manager/general contractor for both the new elementary school and the reconstruction of Conway High School-West.

Clay Gordon, executive vice president at Nabholz, said that both sites are “exciting and significant projects” for the construction company, the city of Conway and for Conway Public Schools.

“These new facilities will provide additional, modernized space for Conway’s students and teachers,” Gordon said. “They are also substantial projects for Nabholz, and we are glad to be a part.”

At peak capacity – the time during construction when most of the electricians, mechanics, plumbers and other tradesmen are on site simultaneously – there will be approximately 120 to 150 workers on site at the new elementary school location and 175 to 200 workers on site at the high school.

Gordon added that the construction projects are sustainable — from the design elements and materials used in the buildings to the disposal of construction materials.

“Both buildings will have exterior walls and roof systems that exceed installation standards,” Gordon said. “Windows will be high-performance glazing to cut energy consumption, and the HVAC and other mechanical systems will provide 30 percent more energy efficiency than standard systems.”

“There will be multiple levels of lighting in the buildings, which will be operated by occupancy sensors to conserve electricity. Efforts are also being made to conserve water through low-flow toilets and faucets.”

Nabholz Construction is partnering with Conway Public Schools and Waste Management to separate building materials on site to prepare for recycling.

“This will drastically reduce the amount of waste that will be sent to a landfill,” Gordon said. “Furthermore, the money saved by recycling will go back to the school district.”

As another part of the 2012 plan, Sallie Cone Elementary will be transformed from an elementary school into a preschool and an adult education center. This will consolidate the 11 preschool classrooms in the Conway School District into a central location. The original wings of the building will provide space for preschool classrooms, and the back wing of the building will house the Conway Adult Education Center, which is currently located on Robins Street.

Murry said that this project does not have a significant dollar amount, as there will be no major changes made to the building.

To learn more about Conway School District’s 2012 plan, visit



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