On Monday, November 5, 2018, HOPE joined the Vicksburg Warren School District as it celebrated the beginning of major renovations and additions at Vicksburg High School made possible by the passage of an $83 million facilities bond issue in March of this year. All schools in the District will receive upgrades based on needs and the Vicksburg High School upgrades will cost approximately $37 million.
The project will provide much needed updates to the building to support the school district’s mission of graduating all students college, career and life prepared. The plan, designed by Dale Bailey Architects of Jackson, MS, features a new secure glass forum at the main entrance and aligns with the school district’s transformation of its high schools into college and career academies.
Additions and improvements add 21st century learning spaces and will include new lab space, a mock courtroom, an entrepreneur lab, an aquaponics lab, student leadership lounge, media center and a student run store and credit union. Student and staff safety were also considered in the renovations and secure entries and improved communication systems are planned for the building.
“We are excited to move forward on this project and to finally have the physical transformation in our buildings to support today’s learning.” said School District Superintendent, Chad Shealy. “It is time that our students have the safe and engaging environments they deserve and for our community to be proud of their schools.”
An additional $6 million dollars for the project is provided by a New Market Tax Credits deal; the first of its kind for a public school. “We needed to think out of the box because it has been so long since the community has voted to invest in our schools. The New Market Tax Credit funding will close the gap caused by deferred maintenance and allow us to provide the best for our kids.” said Shaquita Burke, Director of Finance for the School District.
Ms. Burke worked with a team of experts from HOPE Enterprise Corporation, Reinvestment Fund, Butler Snow LLP, Wells Fargo and Teller, Hassell & Hopson to put together the funding.
“Families and communities thrive when people have strong schools, quality health care, jobs that pay enough to live on, and financial institutions that treat everyone with respect,” said HOPE CEO Bill Bynum. “This investment positions Vicksburg students, residents and the entire community for a brighter future.”
School leaders, students, elected officials, project partners and community members were on hand to mark the occasion. The student-led event also featured the Vicksburg High School Ambassadors, Band, Cheerleaders and Army JROTC. Also included in the ceremony were students representing future VHS graduating classes through 2036.
Vicksburg High School renovations and additions are the first major project made possible by the facilities improvement bond. A similar upgrade will begin at Warren Central High School in 2019 and the District will build a new seventh and eighth grade Academy of Innovation middle school slated to be completed by the end of 2020. All schools in the district will receive important improvements as needed. The project also includes major upgrades to athletic facilities at Warren Central High School and Vicksburg High School.