Athens school leaders expect to open new high school this month

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ATHENS, Ala. - More than a thousand Athens high schoolers will go back to class on Monday, but it won't be in their new school.

Workers are nearly finished with the new $60 million project and school leaders say they expect students and teachers will be able to move in this month.

The pristine landscape and poured concrete are an impressive site. Inside, the heavy lifting is done. Teachers have already set up their classrooms.

"Structurally, it's been ready for months," school board president Russell Johnson said.

The new high school has been about ten years in the works. But the last six months have been some of the most stressful for school leaders, dampened by a few 'hat in hand' announcements that the building wasn't quite ready.

"We knew it was going to close when we set those dates and we were trying to push to get it done as quick as we have. But I've had zero phone calls from people upset about the delay," Johnson said.

For superintendent Trey Holladay, the big promise to keep to families was after the holidays. But he says he has a few dates circled on his calendar for January. One is a state inspection next week he hopes will give the building the OK. The other is two days the following week during which students will be taking exams. He says he didn't want to disrupt that to move everybody into the brand new building.

"We're factoring all of those and we'll be in quick. We'll be in in the month of January," Johnson said.

School leaders say there are just a few more jobs to finish from floor to ceiling.

"The last thing is a good thorough cleaning before we move into it," Johnson said.

The building is a project that's been a long time coming, and a welcome leaders say can't come soon enough.

Holladay says the Eagles basketball teams have a handful of home games remaining at the end of January and they're hoping to play at least a few of those in the new gym.

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