TYNDALL — A local school is making progress toward a brighter, bigger future.
Tyndall Academy is pushing forward with plans for its new middle school building, bringing updated technology and classrooms for students.
Replacing a building that was destroyed by Hurricane Michael, Bay District Schools Facilities Executive Director Lee Walters said the current design features about 16 classrooms and a large, collaborative space for STEM activities.
"We plan to include the very latest technology in the building and know that STEM opportunities are very important to Tyndall Academy, so that will definitely be taken into consideration," Walters said via email. "We’re hoping to build something the base will be very proud of and something that will serve the students in that area for years to come."
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The building is estimated to cost $15 million. The building will have Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction, making it more energy-efficient and able to withstand hurricane-force winds.
As far as determining timeline and pricing, Walters said there are a lot of variables that will impact the final numbers on both.
"The School Board recently approved an expenditure of $321,000 for site work needed to move forward in this process," Walters said via email. "As with any construction, there are lots of variables that can impact this project, but we’re really hoping to be able to work through the planning and development with base officials as soon as possible."
Currently, the school has 570 students, which are sixth and seventh graders. The middle schoolers are in 12 portable classrooms on the same campus, said Tyndall Academy Principal Carolyn Dehner.
“They're good-sized classrooms and they're actually very appropriate for the middle school students,” Dehner said. “They actually have their own little area of campus. There's covered sidewalks that lead back to their classrooms.”
Last year was the first year the school had middle school on the campus, changing from Tyndall Elementary to Tyndall Academy. Dehner said that since 2020, they have been adding a higher grade level each year until they add eighth grade next year.
“I think part of that may have been that once the hurricane hit and we lost so many of our population because of the base going down, we took that as an opportunity,” Dehner said. “We saw that as an opportunity to grow and expand.”
Dehner said the new building and new structure will be beneficial for local families, especially to those on Tyndall Air Force Base.
“It's going to offer consistency for families in that, if you have children that are in primary grades, upper elementary and then middle, you have a long time that you can be in one campus,” Dehner said. “You can have continuity for the family, so that parents aren't going to an elementary school and another middle school and so, they can be all right here.”
Walters said he is excited for what this means for the families in the area, both on the Tyndall side and the east side, which have been experiencing a lot of growth.
"Supporting our military is very important to BDS and we think this new building will have a huge impact on our military families," Walters said. "Offering those families and their students, the stability of a K-8 model, and the state-of-the-art technology that will be included in this building is something we hope will help Tyndall’s continued expansion."
For parents, students and staff alike, Dehner agreed that everyone is excited about the new building and what it will bring to the campus.
“There's been a few little hiccups with things, but now everybody's anxious to have the new building and to be able to truly have a great setting for our middle schoolers to be able to offer more of the technology and pieces that we want to include in their curriculum.”
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Bay County's Tyndall Academy on track with new middle school