BONIFAY - Bonifay elementary and middle school students will be welcomed by a new school when the 2017-18 academic year begins next fall.

Led by Culpepper Construction, the project is on schedule with heating and air conditioning systems expected to be installed in the gymnasium by mid-January. All trusses are in place, and waterproofing is nearly completed, with some wings slated to be finished and ready for carpet and furniture by April.

The campus will be turned over to Holmes County School District by the end of June for final touches.

Newly elected Holmes County School Superintendent Terry Mears says he hopes to be able to schedule post-construction hour public visits to the site after the first of the year to help keep the public informed about the progress.

"I feel like we can do a better job about keeping the public informed." said Mears. "This school belongs to and will serve the taxpayers."

It is unclear if the proposed visits would include access to active construction areas due to safety concerns.

Holmes County School District facilities Administrator Buddy Brown states some advantages of the new more than 235,000 square foot school include improved security measures, such classrooms and offices locked under a new key system, upgraded technology, and less disruption during instructional hours, thanks to classrooms being paired and connected to share restrooms.

Most classrooms in the two-story structure are 30 feet by 30 feet in size to accommodate the schools' 1,350 students. In case that student population grows, more space is available for expansion without more construction being needed.

The current elementary school campus has been in use since 1970, and the current middle school was erected in 1954. Brown states the district is still mulling over what to do with the old middle and elementary school buildings, but one option under consideration is to use the old campuses to house the district offices.

For a video of construction site progress, visit www.bonifaynow.com.