The entire $3.9 million building project will bring Viola Schools to state standards. The state will pay for 42 percent of that price tag, while the remainder will be funded through a 30-year millage established in March 2008.
After the state rated all school facilities in 2004, Viola Schools had to upgrade to stay within state standards for public schools, said John May, superintendent of Viola Schools.
"I'm proud that we are going to be able to get our facilities in a position where we will be able to have a school here for a really long time," May said. The upkeep of the new buildings will be less expensive than maintenance of the older buildings. "It just would have been more money to keep putting money into the older buildings," May said.
The high school is held in older buildings of the campus, built in the 1940s under the Works Progress Administration, established during the New Deal in 1939.
Today, 410 students attend Viola Schools, K-12. The high school has an enrollment of about 200 students.
Once the current construction of the main high school building is complete in late Spring 2010, Viola Schools will begin transitioning students into its classrooms, May said.
"We are looking forward to finally getting started," said Mike Jones, superintendent for G.A.G. Builders, Inc. The company recently built a new school for the Melbourne School District. The Viola building schedule had been delayed by a month and a half because of high levels of rain, May said.
The central corridor of the new high school, which runs 300 feet, will also serve as a storm shelter, Jones said. The new facility in its entirety will be equipped with 16 classrooms, including special-use classrooms like home economics and science lab and business lab classrooms. The first phase, currently under construction, averages about $100 per square foot, a very reasonable price for a public building, Jones said.
Phase II has not been bid yet, May said.
The Parents Center, also known as the Old Agri Building prior to 1978, and the Head Start Center on the Viola campus will be torn down to make way for Phase II construction of the high school. The additional construction is slated to begin Summer 2010. It will be connected to the original new structure by a corridor and will house additional general-purpose classrooms. A physical education facility with a single basketball court and two dressing rooms will also be built near the new high school as part of the Phase II construction, May said.
G.A.G. Builders is erecting the structural steel of the building this week. Block layers will be laid for the base of the walls in the structure, and concrete floors will be finished and color-sealed in a beige.
"It will be a nice look and clean look," Jones said.
"We were trying to match the existing buildings on campus for a more complete look," May said.
Viola School District is applying for an Enhancing Education Through Technology state grant for the purchase of projectors, writing tablets and document cameras for every classroom campus wide, a total of 40 sets with two of those sets to be used in the Viola School Library.