School could use old building if renovated

Published 1:34 pm Friday, March 1, 2013

This empty building at Jemison High School is currently being used occasionally by local law enforcement officers for training purposes.

This empty building at Jemison High School is currently being used occasionally by local law enforcement officers for training purposes.

Although the plans for a vacant building on Jemison High School’s campus are uncertain, school officials agree the facility could be restored to function as additional space for classrooms, student testing or extracurricular activities.

The building was one of a series of school buildings constructed in the 1980s beside the current Jemison High School.

Located north of the softball field and south of the old gym’s former site, the building contains about 10 classrooms and has housed elementary and middle school grades in the past.

Despite having a new roof installed several years ago, the structure has sat empty for about four years now aside from local police officers, the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department and the Central Alabama Police K9 Association occasionally using it as a training facility for their drug detector dogs.

JHS Principal Allen Wilson approached the Chilton County Board of Education on Feb. 19 about considering a project to renovate the building so the school can use it again.

Wilson said enrollment at JHS is expected to exceed 800 students in the 2013–2014 school year, and the extra classroom space would alleviate overflow issues and allow the school to hold on-site testing as opposed to busing students to alternate locations for testing.

“Some forms of our academic testing require altering the daily schedule as well as turning off bells,” Wilson told the board.

The building could also help the school’s athletic teams and guests of sporting events by providing restrooms close by.

“Softball season is here and participants could certainly utilize the bathroom facilities, which we currently don’t have at the softball field,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the building could also serve as a practice facility for athletic teams, the dance team, majorettes and cheerleaders, as well as a safe place during inclement weather.

The board heard Wilson’s requests and suggested he meet with Superintendent Dave Hayden and maintenance supervisor Wayne Howell to discuss construction and usage plans.

“I hope that a lot of thought is put into it and that it’s seriously taken into consideration,” Wilson said.

The JHS softball team has been able to use the restrooms inside the building lately since it has running water, but long-term updates such as full plumbing, heating and air conditioning are aspects of the renovation project Hayden, Howell and the board must consider prior to approving or starting the project.

Hayden said most of the repairs would be made to the building’s interior.

Funding could be a problem depending on the extent of needed repairs.

“It’s obviously not doing us any good just sitting there,” Hayden said. “That’s why we’re going to talk and see what the best thing (to do) is. It would give us some more options for different things such as the testing and having more space available that we sometimes need temporarily.”