Chris Woods News
This article originally appeared in the Daily Memphian
After years of planning, debating, funding and finally approval, the new $40 million Lakeland Preparatory School is progressing smoothly to open for the 2022-23 school year.
The reality has been a long time coming for the suburb, which started as the only one of the six municipal school district without its own high school. The bulk of high school students from Lakeland attend Arlington High now.
Work began on the high school wing of Lakeland Middle Preparatory School at 5020 Lions Crest Drive about six months ago at the site north of U.S. 70 and east of Canada Road.
“We’ve been working toward this project since summer of 2014, so it’s incredibly exciting to see it coming to fruition,” Lakeland School System Superintendent Ted Horrell said. “We had so much of the site prepped in advance from the middle school project that the contractors have been able to go vertical very quickly.”
Great weather for the most past over the past several months has helped crews move forward with their work.
“You can really see the shape of the facility already and picture the many ways our high school students are going to be able to utilize it,” Horrell said.
Kevin Floyd, chairman of the district’s Board of Education, echoed those sentiments.
“Our community has been pushing to provide a full K-12 education to our residents for many years now,” said Floyd. “It’s exciting to see construction happening.”
Project general contractor Chris Woods Construction began work at the end of July, with the projected finish date is June 15, 2022, in plenty of time for the fall semester.
“Overall, we’re tracking on schedule. It’s been a good project so far,” said Bradley Grisanti, project manager for Chris Woods Construction. “We’re getting into the rainy weather, so we’ve put in some provisions to help us keep working through the rain.”
Those provisions include adding additional soil and cement to help workers continue to work on the slab, which is 70% poured.
“This year has been better than the previous two years as far as rain days, so we’re in luck in that regard,” Grisanti said.
The 218,000-square-foot high school wing will include a two-story classroom section, cafeteria, courtyard, labs, varsity gymnasium, wrestling area, auditorium and fine arts facilities. Also part of the project are a baseball and softball fields, track, home-side bleachers, a soccer complex with five fields, football field house, baseball locker room, multipurpose locker room and concessions for football and soccer.
“We have not had any delays, and we are on schedule to open with ninth grade students in fall of 2022,” said Horrell.
When the shutdown hit, Lakeland school officials did not miss a single construction meeting, immediately transitioning to remote sessions. With construction immediately adjacent to the existing middle school and more than 600 students attending classes on campus this fall, a few adjustments were made.
“We’ve had to move our recess areas, build a temporary road for the car-rider line, and re-route our bus drop-off temporarily due to the construction. But there have been very few situations that are causing us to change our routine,” Horrell said. “COVID-19 has led to far more changes in our operations than the construction.”
While rapidly escalating material costs and lumber shortages are impacting residential builders this year, Grisanti says those issues should not affect the high school wing since the buildings will not be stick-framed.
“And we have not had any issues with getting materials,” Grisanti said. “But we are making sure that we order materials farther out than when we would typically just to make sure we have it ready for when we need it and avoid any hiccups.”
Chris Woods Construction also built Lakeland Middle, and the company built the new indoor athletic facility that opened in October at Arlington High School.