HALLSVILLE — Dirt flew Friday at the construction sites of Hallsville ISD’s two newest facilities as district officials, teachers and community leaders gathered to celebrate the groundbreakings.

Construction is underway at the district’s new West Elementary School inside the Longview city limits and Hallsville High School auditorium building, both which are part of the $55 million bond approved by voters in 2019.

“This is a great day for Hallsville ISD. This was first discussed over two years ago with this day in mind,” Hallsville ISD Superintendent Jeff Collum said Friday. “This is an exciting time for us to come together and see these projects come to fruition.”

West Elementary, at Page Road and East Loop 281, will have a student capacity of about 900 and will alleviate overcrowding issues at Hallsville North and East Elementary schools. It will house grades pre-kindergarten through four. The 91,362-square-foot campus was approved for a construction budget of about $29.7 million but was bid out for $25 million.

“We’re not done with it yet, but our final cost has come in at $23.4 million, so this is a great start,” Collum said. “We are being good stewards with the money.”

The school will alleviate morning and afternoon traffic on Hallsville’s FM 450 as students head to and from campuses on that roadway.

“We are excited to fulfill this commitment to provide quality education for our kids and alleviate overcrowding issues,” Hallsville ISD board President Jay Nelson said Friday. “This building will have the latest and greatest inside to further our students’ education. We will be back here in about one year and two months to walk through this finished project.”

The group then headed to Hallsville High School where a groundbreaking ceremony was held to celebrate the 1,000-seat auditorium to be constructed as an extension of the existing campus.

The auditorium, originally part of the district’s 2007 bond project that paid for Hallsville High School, was later scrapped due to a lack of funds. With high school students forced to travel to the auditorium at Hallsville Junior High School, trustees wanted to give the high school campus its own auditorium as part of the 2019 bond.

“We are glad to be able to break ground on this auditorium and fulfill our commitment to provide the opportunity for our students and community a place to meet,” Nelson said. “About a year from now, in December, this building will be ready, so we’re excited to see contests here next spring.”

The auditorium was approved for a construction cost of about $13.8 million, but Collum said the project also has come in under budget at about $12.6 million. As part of the auditorium project, an additional 137 parking spaces also will be added on the southeast side of the campus.

“This is not only for our theater students, but for all students and our community, including the band, choir, Belles, and it’s acoustically designed to showcase all the action,” Collum said. “This will be an elegant space for UIL competitions and community events, and the building will also include a large lobby.”

The two projects celebrated Friday are the last pieces of the 2019 bond package to be completed. The $55 million bond also included updates throughout Hallsville Junior High School and Hallsville Intermediate School, as well as new band uniforms and instruments.

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