CARTERVILLE — A little more than a year of construction of a new Carterville Junior High School is finished.
The new 50,000-square-foot facility where the old high school sat in the 800 block of South Division will open Wednesday, the first day of classes for the Carterville Unit School District 5.
Combined with the former high school gymnasium, which has been refurbished, and seven classrooms retained from the high school building, the new school for seventh- and eighth-graders encompasses 80,000 square-feet.
And it’s been built primarily with community growth in mind because Carterville’s younger grade student population has been increasing at a steady rate, said school Principal Jeff Hartford, now in his eleventh year in an administrative capacity with the district.
“There’s been an enrollment bubble,” Hartford said, noting enrollments in the kindergarten and elementary school grades have been increasing by 10 to 15 students since 2006.
“This isn’t a fluke, there’s no way the
intermediate school is going to hold this many students. Young families are moving to Carterville,” Hartford said he and former superintendent Tim Bleyer deduced as each school year passed.
First priority was getting a new high school built. It opened in 2011. Then came the new junior high, built to incorporate Grades 7 and 8. The new junior high was built at a cost of about $11 million.
Administrators are projecting about 315 students will enroll this year. The new school has a capacity for up to 365 students. Room to build additional classrooms can boost that capacity up to 450, Hartford said.
Each of the 22 classrooms is carpeted and painted in school colors. The school mascot has changed also from Cubs to Lions, Hartford said.
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