SSHS to get $1.4M kitchen renovation

St. Stephens High School will receive an upgraded kitchen and lunchroom, thanks to leftover funds from previous projects.

SSHS' kitchen and lunchroom are part of the school's original construction dating back to 1963, according to Catawba County Schools interim superintendent Glenn Barger.

The renovated lunchroom is expected to seat at least 444 students at a time. However, the CCS Board of Education opted to add a future seating area to their plan as an alternate for bidders. The potential area can add 120 more seats, equaling 564 seats for students in the lunchroom.

The total estimated cost for the renovated kitchen and lunch room is $1.2 million. With the added seating space, the amount comes to $1.4 million. The actual cost for the project will not be determined until a bid is approved by the board Feb. 28.

The new kitchen area will consist of four serving stations and new loading dock, which will bring it up to standards of other Catawba County Schools high school cafeterias, according to Steve Walker of CBSA Architects in Hickory.

"We get more for our money (with this option), and it will be done before the school year," said board member Sherry Butler.

Barger said if the school system doesn't have enough funds to add the seating for the cafeteria, it will hold off on that portion of the project.

Steve Demiter, assistant superintendent of operations, said if there is money left over from the kitchen and lunchroom renovations, the next step is to purchase new equipment for the kitchen.

CCS board members unanimously approved for Demiter and Walker to move forward with the design plans at its Thursday meeting. CCS will start advertising for contractors Jan. 10. The project is expected to be finished Aug. 1.

Leftover funds
Funding for the SSHS cafeteria came in excess of several other school projects.

Murray Elementary School's current $4.6-million project is giving $772,694 to the SSHS project after board members decided not to go with an option adding two more classrooms at Murray Elementary.

Murray Elementary will receive 16 additional classrooms, instead of 18. The decision came after Barger received results from a study showing Murray Elementary is expected to increase by 14 students in 2017. Murray Elementary currently has 437 students.

"All Murray's needs are taken care of," Barger said. "(The study) is pretty accurate for planning."

Board members were in agreement with Barger's information concerning Murray Elementary.

"I feel comfortable moving forward with the Murray project without (the two additional classrooms)," said board member Steve Hilton.

Butler agreed.

"We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars," Butler said. "We have an opportunity to take care of Murray. I'm OK with not having (two additional classrooms)."

Hickory Construction was awarded the Murray Elementary project Thursday. The project is expected to be complete fall 2012.

In addition to $772,964 from the Murray project going to SSHS, other funds include $290,000 from Snow Creek Elementary School's construction; $50,000 from CCS Annex storage facility; $50,000 from Arndt Middle School's classroom addition and gymnasium renovation; $50,000 from Arndt Middle School's re-roofing project; and $35,000 from Fred T. Foard High School's addition.

CCS also plans to ask the Catawba County Board of Commissioners for $300,000 to fund the SSHS kitchen and lunchroom renovation project.