Student musicians at Southside Junior High will have a new $558,000 practice space thanks to a gym expansion.

The school uses the gym for events such as assemblies, School Board member Buddy Mincey explained. But as the student body grows, the school will have trouble fitting all of the students inside.

Officials decided to build out the gym but had to demolish the nearby band room to make space. On Thursday, the School Board approved a bid of more than half a million dollars to build a new band room.

Specific features of the new music space were not available during the meeting.

Mincey said the gym currently has bleachers only along one side of the building, with seating for about 500 people. By expanding, the school will be able to install bleachers along another wall, bringing the seating capacity up to 900 or 950, he said.

While crews are working on the gym, they’ll take the opportunity to perform another upgrade — installing a heating and air conditioning system.

In other business, contractors told the School Board that rain earlier this year has delayed the construction of a multipurpose building and four-classroom expansion at South Fork Elementary.

The contract, signed in November, indicated the project would take 240 days, but weather and other delays have pushed back the estimate to 288 days.