Vale Middle School project moves ahead

Officials expect the new Vale Middle School to be finished by May and students will be in the new facility next fall. (The Enterprise/Kristine de Leon).

VALE – Construction is on pace for the new Vale Middle School to be finished by May and ready to host its first classes next fall.

The construction company Petra Inc. broke ground in March 2018, after it was awarded a $10.1 million bid. The construction contractor and its crews have been hard at work ever since.

About 40 contract workers are on site each day, according to Ed Cuttlers, Petra project superintendent.

Cuttlers manages about 30 subcontractors for the project.

Each worker is required to undergo a background check through the Vale School District and complete an orientation.

“It’s very strict,” said Cuttlers. “Everyone had to sign a sheet that they understand that there are many rules and there are no second chances. One strike, you’re gone.”

Cuttlers estimates that roughly 300 workers have walked through the middle school site.

“We prioritize safety,” said Cuttlers.

Alisha McBride, Vale School District superintendent, agreed and said the middle school construction site’s proximity to the high school makes it critical that each worker comply with both the school district and Petra’s rules.

In 2016, Vale voters passed an $8 million bond which the state Education Department supplemented with $4 million to pay for the project.

The new 38,000-square-foot campus, which sits on top of a former alfalfa field, will include seven classrooms, a media center, wrestling facility, a 1,000-seat capacity gymnasium and a “state of the art” science lab, said McBride.

With more accessible recreational space, McBride said the new school would not only serve the school district, but the community as well.

“Parents and students use the gym and facilities at the high school just about every day of the week,” said McBride.

McBride said this isn’t possible at the current middle school, the school district’s oldest building.

In the wake of several high profile school shootings in recent years, security was central to the school’s design.

Each outside door to the school is locked and controlled by staff.

At the school entrance, visitors open the doors to a vestibule, where they encounter locked doors to the office and to the school. Visitors will need to give their names and reasons for visiting to staff behind a bullet-proof window with an intercom.

All classroom doors will have locks, too, and the hallways have been designed to be clear of obstructions, so administrators can stand at an intersection and see clearly in several directions.