Dobyns-Bennett races to finish $20 million expansion for first day of school

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- Aside from natural light and gleaming new furniture, plenty of construction equipment still fills the new Regional Science and Technology Center at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

Despite the rush to have the new expansion ready by the first day of school, Kingsport City Schools administration is eager for students to use the new space when they return for classes on August 5th.

“Our community is spending $20 million on a project that is really differentiated for us, so it’s exciting to showcase it as well,” said Andy True, assistant superintendent.

The Center’s three new stories and 18 new labs still need finishing touches before students arrive. Workers are busy assembling new desks, hanging lights, and completing the roof of a 70,000-square-foot space devoted to furthering STEM education.

“We’ve got students right now in our schools that will be working in careers that haven’t even been invented yet,” True said. “It really became evident that adding space that focused on our science and technology coursework and academic goals was going to be a priority.”

Heavy rainfall this spring slowed the construction process, but students will be able to fully use the new lab areas on the first day of school.

“It’s pedal to the floor as we go through these last few days,” True said. “There will obviously continue to be some construction activity over the first few weeks of school. It’s an ongoing process as they continue to lay the floor, do final paint coats, that sort of thing.”

Already crowded at around 2200 students, Dobyns-Bennett expects even more population growth. The expansion will help faculty as well. In past years, crowding required some teachers to move between multiple rooms a day, teaching wherever there was vacant space.

MORE: Regional Science and Technology Center nearing completion at Dobyns-Bennett H.S.

“We had about 20 teachers that were teaching from carts,” True said. “And so what the addition will allow us to do is to have those individuals have more of a home base.”

The $20 million Center has features like a new robotics classroom and outdoor amphitheater seating to create courtyard learning areas. Academics aside, some outdoor space created by the Dobyns-Bennett expansion can be used purely for fun.

OCTOBER 2017: Kingsport BOE approves bid for Regional Science and Technology Center

“We envision football tailgating on game nights across the front as this whole area becomes more of a gathering space,” True said.

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