Anderson County Director of Schools Tim Parrott and others cut a big blue ribbon last Wednesday to celebrate the completion of a $4 million expansion of Norris Middle School and construction of a new $400,000 exit road for parents dropping off their kids.
“When we do something, we want to do it right,” Parrott said during a short speech in the lobby of the six-classroom addition before the ribbon-cutting event, which was hosted by the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce.
“There was a lot of thought put into this,” he said. “There were a lot of meetings — a lot of input from students, from parents, from the community, from teachers — and you can tell that. Dr. [Rob] Cummings and his staff really put a lot of time into this.
“The other thing … It came in on time and under budget,” he added.
Students began using the new addition last week as classes began for the 2023-24 school year.
Cummings, the school’s principal, said the first week of school went well.
Included in the school’s expansion was the new connector behind the building that funnels traffic coming in off East Norris Road down the hill onto West Norris Road, behind Loy Johnson’s real estate office.
“In the mornings, buses come in as normal to the bus circle,” Cummings said. “But car riders come to the rear of the school and egress onto West Norris [in a one-way flow].”
He said about 280 to 300 vehicles will use that route for student drop-offs and pick-ups daily.
Among those on hand for the ribbon-cutting was Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, whom Parrott credited for her support of the project, including getting the necessary funding approved through the County Commission.
The money for the expansion came from federal COVID-19 pandemic relief money.
Construction began last September, and involved adding the classrooms, a training/conference room, an office for the dean of students, and bathrooms, Cummings said. Each classroom has about 600 square feet of space.
Besides the new exit road at the rear, the project also created 74 new parking spaces, he said.
Norris Middle School had 487 students “at last count” last week, Cummings said.
The new classrooms are intended to handle projected growth at the school over the next several years as new subdivisions open in its service area.