Florence school leaders vote to build a new middle school

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Florence Board of Education has chosen to take on the first major school campus construction project in more than 30 years.

Administrators say Florence Middle School is not only busting at the seams, it’s a security threat as well.

For months now, school system leaders have been pouring over data and options about what to do with the middle school campus. Built in 1951 as Coffee High School, the school transformed into a middle school and freshmen center after Florence High School was formed.

“Even with moving the freshmen center out, we are still almost at capacity and continue to grow each year,” stated Superintendent Janet Womack. “But, it’s the aging facility that does not create a safe campus.”

Sixty years of wear and tear have taken its toll on the building, and repairs could cost upwards of $10 million.

Coupled with the repairs, superintendent Womack said the campus has four buildings and multiple entrances, making it difficult to secure.

“That design many years ago, safety did not have to be the factor. Whereas in today’s world safety is number one before we do anything else in education,” Womack explained.

Tuesday night the school board voted unanimously to construct a $30 million middle school on the same grounds as the current campus.

School system leaders say they hate having to take down a part of Florence history, but they must focus on the safety of the children there now and in the future.

According to Womack, it will take about a year before architects will have plans ready for the new school and construction can begin.

The school system is also making plans for a portable school campus which students will use for up to 24-months during construction.

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