ELKO – Construction on the new Elko High School science building is underway.
Ground was broken Nov. 11 on the two-story building, which is estimated to cost $9.5 million, paid for with pay-as-you-go tax funds.
It will include 11 classrooms and lab space to house new equipment for physics, chemistry and biology classes.
The science building will be on the site of the former Elko General Hospital. The school district in 2001 purchased the 3.2-acre parcel at the corner of 13th Street and College Avenue.
The property will also be the site of a future performing arts building that would be the home to the Elko High School Band of Indians, Choraliers and drama department.
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The Elko County School Board approved going out to bid for the state-of-the-art science building and parking lot as part of the district’s capital improvement plan.
The City of Elko Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit filed by the school district on Nov. 5.
“This will not only bring our science curriculum up to current standards but also give the campus additional capacity for growth,” the district said.
Lack of reliable electricity, gas, and water to the existing science labs inside buildings constructed more than 50 years ago prompted EHS science teachers to approach the district with their concerns. In February, after years of discussion, steps were taken by the district to hire Design West Architects to draft a preliminary design of the new building.
Biology and zoology teacher Kristin Birdzell, who has taught at EHS for more than six years, said the classrooms were “virtually obsolete and/or nonfunctional,” even if the facilities were repaired.
“The age of the existing buildings has resulted in spaces too small to maintain safety as the population of Elko has grown,” Birdzell told the Elko Daily Free Press in March.
Construction is expected to be completed mid to late September 2020, barring any delays, Kelly said.