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Construction continues at two locations in the Hot Springs School District on projects funded by the 2016 millage increase, and a third is planned for this summer, Superintendent Stephanie Nehus said Wednesday.

"It's so exciting right now," Nehus said. "The new (Hot Springs) Junior Academy is coming along. We are still on schedule to complete that and open by early spring 2020." The junior academy is being constructed adjacent to Hot Springs High School on Emory Street.

In recent weeks, a few developments with the project have included finishing the foundation in the 1,000-seat auditorium, continued progress on the building's classroom wing, and steel frames for the seating in the 2,200-seat multipurpose arena.

In a separate project on Silver Street, the revamped Langston Aerospace and Environmental Magnet is under construction, and will undergo a name and theme change when it is occupied in August. Nehus said because aerospace education has changed over the years, the team at Langston developed a new theme that focuses on community service and leadership. The school will reopen as Langston Elementary Leadership Academy.

"That project is fully underway; there's even color going up inside," she said of the construction of the new school on Silver Street.

"Langston will open in August as a Pre-K through sixth-grade school. Park (Magnet) will be K through sixth with us possibly adding a paid Pre-K. And Oaklawn and Gardner will be Pre-K through sixth on paper, but their sixth grade will still be housed in the middle school for another year. By August 2020, Oaklawn and Gardner will make those location shifts and add in sixth grade to their buildings," Nehus said.

The plan, Nehus said, is to shift Gardner STEM Magnet over to the current Oaklawn Visual and Performing Arts Magnet school location, where it will become Oaklawn STEM. The visual and performing arts elementary will relocate to the current junior academy building.

For the former Gardner building, Nehus said her district is still in conversations with the superintendents of the other six Garland County school districts as well as National Park College and Henderson State University to provide a space for career, technical and vocational education and training. Nothing has been decided officially, she said.

When voters approved a millage increase for the district in September 2016, Langston and the Junior Academy were the two major building projects. Starting this summer, another millage project will commence with the building of a new library at Hot Springs World Class High School. Plans are in progress to be submitted to the Arkansas Department of Education for approval, she said.

"We're just really excited to offer varied experiences and opportunities to our students throughout the district," she said. "Things like the Science After School program with Mid-America Science Museum have been great. My own personal child is involved with that and loves it. We have revised our mission vision -- 'Diverse. Dedicated. Unified. A place for everyone.'"

The district is also beginning a few projects not using millage dollars, she said.

"We're really excited to open the Hot Springs School District Welcome Center in the house across from the new Hot Springs Junior Academy," Nehus said. "We see it as an opportunity to help not only families in our district, but families in our community. We will have a food pantry, clothing closet, places for our families to wash clothes or take a shower. We feel it's important to offer this."

The focus moving forward is on overall academic excellence, she said.

"We want to be world-class in everything; that is our focus," she said.

Local on 01/31/2019

Print Headline: Hot Springs School District millage projects underway

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