Ground has officially been broken on a new $1.5 million agriculture science building at Calallen High School.

Officials with the Calallen Independent School District held the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility at the high school last week. The project is part of a $43 million bond package approved by voters in 2007.

James Pawlik, one of the district's three agriculture science teachers at the high school, said the facility would provide the agriculture program's more than 300 student population more space for their projects than the current building allows.

"It will enable every student with an animal to have their own pen and not have to share," Pawlik said. "We're really looking forward to starting the new year with that in place."

The current agriculture science facility only has 80 pens available for students to use, Pawlik said. This means that in some instances there are two to three animals being held per pen, he added.

The new facility will provide 32,800-square-feet of space, as well as 220 pens for students, who are in 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs, to use for their animal projects. More space will mean better results for the students, Pawlik said.

"We've got 180 kids who take part in NCJLS," he said. "The new building is going to enable them to care for their animals in a better manner."

With the current facilities, which are over 30 years old, falling into disrepair, Pawlik said a new building will encourage greater participation from students who may have been interested in raising an animal, but were dissatisfied with the current building's condition.

"Most of the buildings are over 30 years old and they're just falling apart and the pipes are rusted out," Pawlik said. "I think once the facility is built, it's going to be like one of those 'If you build, it they will come'-kind of things. Kids will see it and want to raise animals.

"I think more of the kids we have will start raising animals, too."