An Update on the Construction to Arlington High School



An image of the ongoing construction occurring to the expansion that is attached to the existing C-wing of AHS. Taken on 10/19/2021.

Sera Sabol, Editorial Board

Delays have pushed back the completion date of the major expansion to Arlington High School (AHS). This expansion is being built onto the existing C wing of AHS and will be 15 thousand square feet, making up eight new classrooms. Additionally, a new scene shop will be added to the Byrnes Performing Arts Center (BPAC) and a new secure entry vestibule will be added to the main entrance of the school. 


Construction on the large classroom extension has been delayed because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled for completion at the end of 2021, the expansion is now scheduled to be completed in the first few months of the 2022 year. 


“[Construction is] a little behind schedule and that’s primarily due to supply chain disruptions from Covid,” Brian Lewis, executive director of operations for Arlington Public Schools said. “It was scheduled to finish December 31 on the addition, and now it’s looking like February 11 will be our completion date.” 


“It is almost back to on time,” said Duane Fish, the principal of AHS. “There is a good chance that we will still be able to utilize that C-wing [expansion] sometime in semester two… this year four or five educational spaces will be utilized out of that eight. ”  


There will be a new technology classroom in the expansion. This will be closer to the road which allows for easier and safer transport of materials to the classes. New machines will also be located in the shops allowing for more learning. 


“Inside of the classroom addition, we are adding a technology shop. That technology shop will be a fabrication using modern techniques… With 3D printers and laser cutters. We will be able to bring large pieces of metal and do machining on those,” said Lewis. 


The current expansion will be the first of many projects in the next coming years. A future project is scheduled to begin next summer and will be focused on athletics.


“In the summer of 2022, we are going to resurface the track at the stadium. It’s the original track, had a 10-year life span, and has been in use for 17 years. It is beginning to show its wear,” Lewis said. 


In addition to adding to the athletics program, they will add to classes in the coming years.


“…we are looking to expand and add a criminal justice program,” Fish says. 


Along with this, a new scene shop room is being constructed that will be attached to the BPAC. This will allow for students to have more room when constructing sets, and will also allow for easier access to the road. This workshop is currently in construction. 


“Mr. Moberly [the drama teacher] will be utilizing his current teaching classroom but he will also have the additional stagecraft room that is being built on the back of the BPAC that will be available to him in semester two. Maybe even a little before for him, that project is ahead of schedule,” Fish said.  


Life skills — the special education program — will have their current classrooms moved to the new extension which will allow for students to leave the building and get to the busses more comfortably and safely. The relocation will also allow for more teaching space.  


“They need a bigger space. We have more kids in the life skills program than we did when the building was constructed so we need a bigger space for them,” Lewis said. “It will ease their transition at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day.”


With the life skills program moved, it will leave empty classrooms in the current building. These classes will be remodeled to house different classes and groups. One of the classes will be a new science classroom.  


“When they move to the new suite those classrooms are vacated and remodeled,” said Fish. “JROTC who’s out in the portable will be coming inside, so they will be in the lower C-wing and will be in one of the currently occupied life skills programs.”  


During this large project, new security cameras and door locks have also been installed in the school to allow for a safer experience in cases of emergencies like lockdowns. In order to prevent these emergencies, a new secure entry vestibule will also be installed at the main doorways to the school. Currently, only a callbox is in place to screen visitors when they are entering the school. 


“The intent of the secure entryway is to provide an opportunity for us to vet a user before they go into the instructional area of the school,” Lewis said.


The secured entryway was planned to open before the start of the school year but is now on course to finish this December.  


“When we come back from the holiday break we should be fully functional and feeling as secure as we always have. Or even more secure than we always have,” Fish said.


Along with the construction being done to make new teaching areas, the existing school is also being repaired. According to the district website, exterior metal surfaces like doors are being repainted. They will also apply anti-graffiti paint to the buildings outside walls.


This current construction at AHS is costing the district more than $7 million dollars and was funded by a capital levy that was voted on by Arlington community members in early 2020 and passed. A capital levy is a small tax on buildings in the city of Arlington that allows for school districts to gain the funding to do capital improvements, like the current construction. This levy is funding the projects at AHS, and also small projects like flooring at Kent Prairie Elementary School and new fencing at Post Middle School. 


Despite the delays to the project Principal Fish said, “There are a lot of moving parts to this… but it’s really super exciting.”


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