Anyone familiar with the sloping hills and softball fields that once sat behind Red Bank High School might be in for a shock.
In their place is a massive work site that's been leveled off and stripped of vegetation.
"You wouldn't recognize it," said Gary Waters, assistant superintendent of auxiliary services for Hamilton County Schools.
Groundwork is currently being completed for a new Red Bank Middle School to replace the 1937 building currently used on Dayton Boulevard. The new 160,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by August 2013 at a cost of $29.6 million, officials said.
Waters said crews made rapid progress on earthwork, which involved bringing enough dirt to raise the ground level about 20 feet.
"We're very much on schedule and probably a little ahead of schedule," Waters said. "This is amazing what these guys have accomplished in just a few weeks."
The new middle school will have its own gymnasium, cafeteria and offices. But Waters said having the building on the same campus as the high school will allow for cooperation and sharing between the two schools.
"It will be really nice to have a middle school program feeding right into the high school," Waters said. "I anticipate a lot of involvement between the two."
Crews are drilling 200 holes for the new school's geothermal heating and air system, which uses a series of deep pipes to move water below the ground's surface. While there's a higher up-front cost to those systems, Waters said long-term savings are significant.
"It pays for itself in a very short matter of time," he said.
Upon completion, the 500-foot-deep geothermal holes will connect about 18 miles of piping, said Gary Brown, with Mid- State Drilling of Livingston, Tenn. He said drill-rig trucks will be on site for several weeks, with each truck completing about two holes a day.
Red Bank Middle will be the third Hamilton County school with a geothermal system - East Hamilton and Signal Mountain Middle-High have them - but it won't be the last. Waters said all new school construction
likely will use the technology.
The 14 acres for the middle school were purchased for $546,000 from Red Bank. A donation of three acres from Erlanger North helped complete the site.
After the old middle school is emptied and demolished, the district also will hand over the land to the city.
Four softball fields were located at the new middle school's site, but Red Bank will refurbish two fields and build a new one near Memorial Drive and James Avenue, said City Manager Chris Dorsey.
City officials hope the Dayton Boulevard site of the former middle school can be redeveloped once the building is demolished.
"When they give it to us, it's going to be just ground," he said.