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Construction starts this week on new Crestline Elementary

Oct. 2—HARTSELLE — Construction starts this week on a new building for Crestline Elementary that Hartselle school officials say will relieve overcrowding in their other elementary schools and allow expansion of the special education program.

Birmingham-based Davis Architects designed the 105,000-square-foot school with 65 classrooms and says it will accommodate over 1,000 students in grades pre-K through fourth.

Hartselle schools Director of Operations Rocky Smith said construction of the new school will cost $36 million.

The new school will be located beside Crestline's existing building on 600 Crestline Drive S.W., on the property's south side. Everything in the existing school will be demolished except for two buildings on the eastern side of the property the district still plans to use as the city continues to grow, according to Smith.

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"We've got several new neighborhoods with several hundred new homes in Hartselle that will be completed within four to five years, so the combination of the new school building and what we retain here (at the current school) will help with that growth," Smith said.

Smith said it's possible that a new pre-K program will be placed in the two buildings on the east side of the existing school, but the school board has not voted to approve it yet.

"These two wings here we'll retain for classroom purposes," Smith said. "Something else they might be used for is a pre-K program. That will take pre-K classrooms out of the other two elementary schools to relieve some of the overcrowding."

Jim Hartsell, vice president of Davis Architects, said contractors from Auburn-based Bailey-Harris Construction Co. will begin sitework at the end of this week. He estimated construction will be complete by August 2024.

Hartsell said the extra classroom space will allow the district's special education program to expand.

"We'll have a real state-of-the-art special needs wing in this new building with a sensory room they can do activities in," Hartsell said. "We've also got a few more gifted classrooms and a bigger robotics lab in there too."

Deborah Lee, robotics instructor at Crestline, said the larger lab will allow the school to have more robotics teams and add more students to the robotics program.

Crestline Principal Karissa Lang said all her classrooms are full this year except for one and construction of a larger school could not have come at a more convenient time.

"That one vacant classroom I have this year will be taken next year," Lang said. "Next year, I will have to go to my special education classrooms to make space for some added units I have to add due to the growth of grades kindergarten through second."

The current school is 75,000 square feet with 41 classrooms and is almost at capacity with close to 600 students.

The district's current enrollment in grades pre-K through 12 is 3,645, an increase of more than 500 students in the last 10 years. The total enrollment at the school's three elementary schools, F.E. Burleson, Barkley Bridge, and Crestline, sits at 1,539 this school year, up from 1,337 in 2017.

wesley.tomlinson@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2438.