PORT ARTHUR - Port Arthur ninth-graders will move out of an almost century-old building and into a $26 million facility next to Memorial High School in 2018, the first of three new campuses to be built with funds from a $195 million bond project approved by voters in 2014.
Port Arthur Independent School District (PAISD) officials has broken ground for the new 113,000-sf Memorial Ninth Grade Academy on a lot between the high school and baseball fields on Sgt. Lucian Adams Dr.
The district's latest bond project also calls for new William B. Travis and Sam Houston elementary schools and the remodeling of Tyrell Elementary School.
Design plans for the Ninth Grade Academy call for 15 classrooms, five science labs and two art labs. Additionally, ten classrooms inside an already existing building, dubbed the Motiva building, will become a part of the campus, according to preliminary plans.
Construction should begin this spring.
Enrollment figures for the 2014-15 school year show that almost 600 students attend the Memorial Ninth Grade Academy. Those students are currently housed at the former Stephen F. Austin High School on 61st St. The school building was built in 1929, and about 12,000-sf was added in 1961, making the building a combined 130,000 sf.
Being next door to the high school will help the students make an easier transition to the main campus their sophomore year.
It will also make it easier on parents who have students enrolled in both campuses.
Additionally, the plan is for some of the high school's and ninth grade academy's facilities to be shared. The new school will have one gym and a cafetorium, which is a cafeteria with a stage.
After completing the new school, the old ninth grade academy could be used to temporarily house Dick Dowling Elementary students while Dowling is renovated.
Eventually, the Stephen F. Austin building is planned to house newcomers with language barriers, credit recovery students and act as an alternative disciplinary campus, according to previous Enterprise reports.