PHOENIX — With the start of the 2016-17 school year, students at several Phoenix-area schools are heading back to newly constructed buildings, according to The Arizona Republic. Here’s a roundup of five major school construction projects helping to change the face of local education for the 2016-2017 school year:
• Laird Elementary School: The school added two grade levels in 2009, prompting the construction of a new building to accommodate a larger student body. It was rebuilt thanks to area voters who authorized a 2009 bond to pay for construction, and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on July 28 following the building’s completion. The new Laird Elementary Schools features 28 classrooms as well as two labs for art and science. DLR Group, with offices in Phoenix, served as the architect on the project, while Mesa, Ariz.-based Concord General Contracting served as the construction manager at-risk, according to the project website.
• Westwood High School: Construction on a new $9.6 million classroom building for Westwood High began last fall. The 86,000-square-foot building, which was completed July 1, features 25 classrooms, a media center and a culinary classroom. The design incorporates four massive W shapes that blend into the project and provide structural support, according to East Valley Tribune.
• Empower Collegiate Academy: The charter high school welcomed students back to a new facility earlier this month after construction was completed earlier this summer. Beginning with a 130-student freshman class, the school will add a grade level each year until reaching its 500-student capacity. Empower Collegiate Academy was established in 2012 for third through eighth grades, so the construction of the high school was a logical next step in seeing students through to graduation.
• Arizona Autism Charter Schools: The school system renovated an existing building, which opened Aug. 8, to serve as a school for older students with autism. In its first year, 55 students in fifth through seventh grades will occupy the new building, adding one grade level each academic year until reaching grade 12.
• Esperanza Elementary School: Currently two-thirds completed, a massive revamp of the elementary school will address safety and security issues as well as energy conservation when it is finished this winter. It will also feature additional square footage for classroom expansions.