MIAMI — Fifty years after moving into the current Miami High School building, ground was broken Friday, Jan. 3 for the “next gen” MHS.

Voters in May approved a $19.03 million bond issue that is paying for several projects in the Miami School District, most notable a new two-story building to house the high school.

Money from Proposition 1 is funding an addition and renovation of the current MHS building with seventh and eighth graders currently at Will Rogers Middle School moved there.

The new two-story high school building will have 22 classrooms, doubling the current amount of classroom space and will house grades 9 through 12.

A new junior high entrance will be built as well as a safe room that has room for 1,200 students and a number of other amenities and improvements.

The front end of the WRMS building, built in 1948, will be razed. The most recent additions tentatively will be repurposed for use by the Miami Academy.

“I am real excited about the current high school being a junior high because I think with that being (grades) 7-8-9 and them using the same facility, but somewhat separated — we will have a hub area — we will be able to consolidate and collaborate a lot of resources, provide a lot of opportunities for those kids,” Hogan said. “It’s exciting, it really is.”

Neese Concrete Construction was awarded the first bid and will begin site work immediately, Hogan said.

“They are prepping both build sites, here and at Nichols,” he said.

In February, a second round of bids will be accepted, and by March, when the pads are ready, the real progress can be made.

Hogan said the buildings will be all structural steel and framed walls with the exception of the storm shelter project.

The exterior will be brick and aluminum-clad panels.

It’s hoped that construction will be completed in time for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Hogan said that the plans that were presented as part of the bond proposal “are still pretty solid.”

The only thing that has been tweaked is the placement of classes.

“We’ve looked a little more strategically at those,” Hogan said.

One major change is locating all of the science classes in one area, which will allow sharing one big lab.

“We worked to do the same with math, social studies and all those various other departments, trying to put them together. Instead of trying to set these up more in a grade structure, 10th, 11th and 12th, we collaborated and consolidate them more by subject.

“That allowed us to do a few things. It really did. It allowed us to do the lab and do a few other things; add an extra classroom.”

Once work is complete on the high school-middle school complex, attention will turn to WRMS.

Sixth graders will move to Nichols Upper Elementary, joining the fourth and fifth graders there.

To accommodate the increased numbers, Nichols will get an additional 10 classrooms as well as a safe room.

“They still rotate classes in fourth and fifth, so its not anything totally different from what they are doing different right now, but it will allow those kids to develop a little more before putting them in that junior high setting,” Hogan said. “As we talked in that bond process and went out to the voters, we looked a lot at the physical and emotional development of children.

“You look at the data and research speaks of a big gap between sixth and seventh grades and ninth and 10th grades.”

Of 1,193 total votes in the May 2019 election, there were 780 yes (65.38 percent) compared to 413 no.

Proposition 2 of the bond issue provides $1.2 million for the purchase of new buses.

Dayna Boynton of Boynton Williams & Associates is the principal architect on the project and Brewster Construction of Chouteau is the contractor.