While members of the Douglas County School Board were wielding shovels on Thursday, the real work on the $17.9 million expansion of Douglas High School will begin after Friday’s graduation ceremony.
Board members, district staff and representatives of Turner Construction and H&K Architects attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
Work on the two-story science, technology, engineering and mathematics building will start on June 3, though work on the main gym began on Monday.
Besides the STEM building, work will alter the commons, kitchen and bring the freshman class back to the high school for the first time since 1994.
Alternatives approved by the school board include the purchase of lockers, addition of exterior storage rooms, a rubber gym floor covering and fencing along Highway 88.
Eventually the small gym will be expanded.
Work on the high school will continue next school year in order to be done by fall 2015, when ninth-graders leave the middle schools and join their upperclassmen.
Among the improvements are more lighting in the commons bringing illumination up to 50 foot candles, far brighter than the current 6 foot candles. Lighting will combine fluorescent and LED fixtures and will be dimmable.
Mark Johnson of H+K Architects said the school also plans to redo the parking lot and remove the junipers from the landscaping along the school’s boundary with Highway 88.
The improvements will be paid for by a continuation bond approved by voters in 2008, along with capital improvement funds. Any money raised by the sale of Kingsbury Middle School could also be applied.
The high school was built in 1978 after Douglas County outgrew Douglas County High School in Gardnerville.
Additions to the school have been made over the years, including the construction of the media center in the early 1990s. One of the key issues with bringing the freshman class back to the school is the expansion of the kitchen and cafeteria, so there is enough room for all the students to eat.