Franklin moving forward on huge new school construction program: What comes next?

With a bond issue approved by voters last November, officials at the Franklin City Schools are busy working on preparations to begin the first phase of the multi-year school construction project.

On Monday, the Franklin Board of Education took action on several areas related to the school construction project.

Superintendent Michael Sander said beginning this fall, the Hampton Bennett Early Childhood Center will close to students. He said those students in the early childhood programs will be moved to neighborhood buildings.

Sander said all preschool classes will reside at Gerke Elementary, as it is a central location for the district. Kindergarten students will be attending their respective neighborhood school.

He said childcare options provided by the YMCA will be moved to another building in the district.

Sander said all students in grades K-6 in the district will attend their neighborhood school, and portable classrooms will accommodate the additional students at the elementary buildings.

The older grade level students will be placed in the portable classrooms while the kindergarten students will be housed in the brick-and-mortar buildings, he said.

“We’re very excited about the project. Things are moving fast and very smooth,” Sander said. “We’re on track for the groundbreaking in September.”

He said the district will be having community input meetings to help finalize the high school design. It is coordinating with the city on infrastructure projects that can be done during the construction of the school that will benefit both entities.

“We’re really pleased with the process,” Sander said.

Also this fall, Sander said demolition will begin on the current Franklin Junior High School. He said all incoming seventh and eighth grade students will transition to the grounds of the current Franklin High School. As with the grade school students, portable classrooms will also be utilized to accommodate the increase in students on the high school property.

“We recognize the importance of the junior high building to the Franklin community and will do our best to celebrate the heritage with several events for the public,” he said. “More information on those will be forthcoming.”

Sander said the front section of the Hampton Bennett facility will remain partially open to house the Welcome Center, administrative offices, and technology department. He also said gymnasium will remain open to assist athletics due to the loss of the junior high school facilities.

“While this is just the first of many updates on the facilities project, we believe in transparency with the community,” he said. “This will be a transition for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.”

Earlier this month at the Jan. 11 reorganization meeting, the board selected Andrew Fleming and Bob Knipper as the 2021 board president and vice president.

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