A. Stacy Long, Montgomery Advertiser 8:21 a.m. CDT July 7, 2015 PIKE ROAD – The school itself has sprouted from the ground with the turned dirt surrounding it almost as fresh as the black pavement leading to it. The teachers, all newly hired, have been meeting to go through all the little things an existing school system already has in place.
Pike Road’s school opening in August involves more than just a new building and an influx of children. Officials have to write all the policies, decide on the internal terms to use and procedures to follow.
“You heard talking all day,” superintendent Suzanne Freeman said, describing an early-June work session where the teachers divided into nine groups, each with a list of tasks to ponder. “Every person was engaged in the conversation because we want everybody’s best thinking,” Freeman said. “We know we hired the right people to breathe life into that and put legs on that.”
Measuring progress on the school building may be easier, with its tangible timeframe leading up to the Aug. 13 first day of school.
Final inspections are scheduled for July 7-8. July 15 marks the beginning of furniture installation, which will take up to two weeks, and when the gymnasium floor will begin to be installed.
July 25 is when Freeman said she hopes teachers and administrators can begin moving in. There are no worries, construction-wise, about the school’s Aug. 13 debut day.
“We feel pretty good about it,” Freeman said this month. “The learning spaces are down to finishing touches, finalizing things, cleanup, getting the parking lot cleaned up, final coat of asphalt. We’re talking about shrubbery now. “Everything is very doable within the window of time that we have to do it.”
Freeman said she has been a part of several construction projects and expansions, but this has “been one of the easiest.” She cites having “a great construction management firm and a great contractor and architect.” “They deal with a lot of the tedious things and touch base with us,” she said. “We make decisions and they can move on. That really helps free us up to do the more important things of getting ready for school.”
Freeman still makes weekly visits (or more) to the site, though she’s also leading the effort to build the school system, too. Pike Road’s town council voted in December 2010 to have a school system. Voters approved a 16-mill ad valorem tax in September 2011 for the school.
Freeman, hired in February 2014, had input on the plans, both on the walls being erected and the ideas being hatched.
“It’s pretty amazing to see it coming out of the ground,” Freeman said. “From the start, from a field to a foundation, to block walls and seeing finishes and colors now. You can really see the spaces taking shape for learning. “I have mentally walked through the plans so many times. I’ve pictured it. Then to walk in the actual building, I feel like I know every square inch of the building.”
Freeman, with the approval of the board of education, hired 53 teachers and one assistant principal, Angela Lang. Freeman will be a dual superintendent/principal for at least the first part of the school’s first year. “We work together as a team. Teachers, too,” Freeman said. “It’s not really about positions and titles. It’s about let’s help our teachers implement the Pike Road Way and pull in the same direction.