Dirt and dust filled the air as a yellow excavator pulled down the walls of what was left of the building that once housed Navarro’s intermediate students last Thursday as the demolition began.
Now in its spot sits piles of concrete and leftover remnants that will soon be cleared out.
The former Intermediate School, which always served as a campus of some kind for about 40 years, is officially no more after sitting vacant for the past year.
The project was long-awaited as the building had several issues since its inception, Navarro ISD Superintendent Dee Carter said.
“It’s had problems since it was built and those problems just got worse. The foundation was not leveled in many places and the walls separated in many places,” Carter said. “It was just not serving our needs for instruction anymore.”
In 2015, the Navarro Board of Trustees called for a $21 million bond election to renovate the Navarro Junior High science labs, double the size of the high school’s band hall, add eight classrooms to the elementary and build the new Intermediate School, which opened last school year.
The district received about 75% of the votes in favor of the bond from the community and it was able to land the lowest bid of $15.5 million from Kencon Construction.
The new 97,000 square-foot Intermediate campus, built by Kencon and designed by Kerry Andrews Architect, features several amenities the old school didn’t have such as a band hall, a choir room, a gym with seating for about 700 and the first cafeteria in the district to have real serving trays.
“It’s been a wonderful year watching the children go into that new building especially the fourth and fifth graders who had been in the old building,” Carter said. “They were just blown away at how big and comfortable the building is.”
When designing the new building, it needed to have wider hallways to navigate through as the former building’s hallways were narrower, dark and the ceiling was a lot lower.
“It wasn’t pleasant to move from classroom to classroom. The new building is so light and airy,” Carter said.
Navarro Intermediate School Principal Bobbi Supak agreed.
“All of the grade levels are in their own hallway. We have room to move around if we need to pull groups of students,” she said. “Teachers are all under one roof and it’s a great experience to be in this nice building.”
One of the biggest perks of the new building has been the addition of a band hall, Carter said.
“The sixth graders no longer have to walk over to the high school. Plus, we were able to add the vocal music program,” Carter said. “There’s a music room in the school now. It’s added a lot to our curriculum offering.”
However, the crown jewel is the gymnasium, she said.
“Having that big air-conditioned space with the court in it has really added to our entire educational environment for all intermediate school kids,” Carter said.
This past year the new gym was used frequently and served as a space for many school events such as Night at the Museum and Day of Science
Plans for the future
JR Ramon Demolition, the company hired to demolish the old Intermediate School, is working on loading up all the concrete left behind before it can start on tearing up the foundation.
“They have not started yet on the foundation. It’s a deep foundation. It will take another several days to finish up the foundation,” Carter said. “Then the last part of the project is to smooth the property and put some base material so there’s no danger in the area. It will be leveled and well prepared for what we do next.”
With the new school year quickly approaching, there won’t be time to convert the space into additional parking spaces, but that’s the plan for the future, she said.
“There won’t be time to deal with that before school starts or football season starts, but we will be working toward that over time,” Carter said. “Whatever happens there will probably happen next summer.”
Carter added that she’s been pleased with the progress of the project and JR Ramon Demolition.
The demolition company based out of San Antonio was selected by Navarro ISD this past May for their demolition bid of $472,890.
“What makes me happy about this is that the driver of this (excavator) machinery is really an expert at separating the concrete from the metal pieces and electric stuff,” Carter said. “He’s just really talented. It’s interesting to watch him. They are loading up all of those material components separately and taking them back to the Southside of San Antonio where they’ll recycle the material. It makes me very happy that those materials are not just going into a landfill, they’re going to be recycled.”