From The Decatur Daily
by Deangelo McDaniel
PRICEVILLE — Fields that once grew row crops along Upper River and Bethel roads are now sprouting single-family homes, businesses and churches in Priceville.
According to city officials, this is just the beginning.
The growth that started in this hamlet in 2004 when Priceville High School reopened is expected to go on the “fast track” as school leaders move closer to construction of a new high school, Councilman Tommy Perry said.
“We already have great schools and a growing community,” Perry said at Tuesday’s high school groundbreaking ceremony. “But we expect this to draw more people to the community.”
The $24.7 million school, 119,000 square feet in size, is expected to open in August 2015, Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. said.
“It’s going to be a game changer for this area and the entire county,” he said.
Priceville Mayor Melvin Duran was not at the groundbreaking, but he said last week the city has issued about 100 building permits in the past year.
“Some of them are because of the new school,” he said.
When board members voted in July 2012 to construct the school, they cited overcrowding as the leading reason. Priceville’s population grew 76 percent from 2000-10 and now is 2,885, according to 2010 census figures.
Priceville Elementary, a K-5 school on Cave Spring Road, added 100 students during the growth period and is above capacity with about 700 enrolled. The school opened in 2000 and was expanded in 2007.
The junior high and high school share a campus on Alabama 67, but have been near or at capacity since 2004.
Hopkins said the plan is to make the Alabama 67 campus a middle school for grades 5-8, which would give the elementary school more room.
The new high school is designed to house 600 students, but infrastructure will be in place to expand it for 900.
In addition to 25 to 30 classrooms, the school will have laboratories, a 1,500-seat gymnasium and athletic field house estimated to cost about $2 million.
Parents Kelly Dean and Kim Law expect the school, which is the talk of the community, to change Priceville for the better.
“I think this is a statement about what education means in this community,” Law said.
Her son, Hugh Law, 11, participated in Tuesday’s ceremony.
“I’ve been asking my mom where the school was going to be” the fifth-grader said. “I’m excited because this is where I will graduate.”
If construction goes as planned, Law said, her daughter will be part of the first graduating class.
Birmingham-based Volkert Construction is supervising the project.
Shane Bagwell, of Volkert, said the school is on schedule for bid in mid-December. He said the company held its pre-construction conference with the State Building Commission in August and submitted construction documents to the state in early October.
Hopkins said Priceville is perfect for residents who work in Huntsville because the school is about two miles from Interstate 65.
“We hope this becomes a neighborhood school so students can walk to class,” the superintendent said.