WJMS: A work in progress

Construction in progress signSignificant improvements will greet students and staff July 30 when they return to West Jackson Middle School for the start of the 2018-19 school year. Watch for photos early next week!

“Our staff and the contractors entrusted with this important effort have worked tirelessly during the seven weeks since summer break began to meet an aggressive schedule,” Dr. April Howard, Jackson County School System superintendent, said Tuesday.

“This is a complicated project, a very difficult job, but meeting the challenges will mean we have a much improved facility as we go forward.”

The year-long project kicked off with major mechanical, electrical, and plumbing upgrades. While there are some obvious aesthetic renovations, classroom renovations will continue throughout the school year during scheduled breaks.

The renovations that students, staff and visitors will see when school opens include:

  • New heating, ventilation and air conditioning throughout the building, including the gymnasium
  • New roofing, gutters and downspouts on all buildings
  • New plumbing fixtures, toilet partition doors, and toilet accessories
  • New flooring, painting and replacement ceiling tiles in the common areas (entries, corridors, cafeteria, etc.) and in offices, labs and connections classrooms
  • Expanded and updated media center with furnishings and space that promote collaborative work
  • Refinished gymnasium floor with logos and new gym backboards and goals
  • Renovated locker rooms
  • Additional parking spaces, a widened drop-off lane at the front of the school to improve traffic flow, and a repaved and restriped school bus drive
  • New exterior doors
  • Kitchen improvements and some new equipment
  • Collaborative student learning spaces with countertops, benches and charging stations
  • Door access control and updated camera system to enhance security

“We will be working hard throughout the school year to provide every single teacher and student with a completely renovated classroom and overall school experience,” Dr. Howard said.  

The planned second phase includes:

  • Complete renovation of the remaining classrooms (flooring, painting, millwork)
  • Expansion of the cafeteria and band room
  • New lighting throughout to include classroom dimming

“We only renovate schools every 15-20 years, so this is a major project,” Dr. Howard said. “WJMS has experienced tremendous growth and was in great need of some significant upgrades.  

“This is a huge project with a very tight timeline. Please know that our operations team has worked nights, weekends, and holidays to do the very best for WJMS.

“We knew this was going to be a year-long project when we took it on,” she continued. “We are on track for the summertime tasks, and we know that everyone involved will look forward to the project’s successful completion.”

The sixth- through eighth-grade students at WJMS also will greet a new principal when school opens. Dr. Melissa Conway and her team will move back to their 400 Gum Springs Church Road location soon, after spending the summer renovation time with their next-door neighbors at Gum Springs Elementary School.

WJMS is one of 10 schools in the Jackson County system, which serves approximately 7,700 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, call 706-367-5151.