School return 2

Students head inside at Paris Junior High School.

Similar to what Paris ISD trustees approved for Crockett Intermediate School, Paris Junior High is getting a massive safety upgrade.

Both schools were built before school safety pushed to the forefront of design, Principal Kristi Callihan said.

“I think this is very exciting, and it is something that is very needed,” she said. “This will provide us with an entrance to our school for all visitors and it’s a safer environment.

“This building is an older facility, we’re just trying to upgrade where safety is our number one concern.”

The new construction will feature a new building at the front of the school, blocking direct entry into the hallways,

trustee Jenny Wilson said. Most of the administrative offices will be pushed to the new construction, including the principal, the school nurse’s office, the front desk staff and a new conference room. Like it is now, school staff will have to buzz visitors into the building, but like newer construction, there will be vestibule that funnels visitors to the office, instead of releasing them into the middle of the school.

“I’m glad these campuses are going to be much more secure,” Wilson said.

The money for both construction projects will come from the savings with the new energy bond package the district approved in July. The board contracted with Performance Services Inc., a company that helps school districts revamp their energy consumption and, through a section of the Texas Education Code, lets the school districts pay for the work through their future energy savings. The extra savings from the project comes to about $3 million, Business Manager Tish Holleman said, meaning the district doesn’t have to put out a new bond package to pay for the construction.

“We don’t know the actual amounts of the individual projects yet, but we plan for that total to cover both,” she said.

The board plans for construction on both projects to start soon in order to be ready for the 2020-21 school year, Wilson said. When construction does start, there might be some temporary changes to the bus pick up and drop off system, Callihan said.

Kim Cox is the city editor for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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