School system receives $9.3 million from state bond issue

Published 1:28 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2020

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Chilton County Schools will receive $9.3 million for capital projects from the state department of education.

The state has issued a bond to give local school systems additional funding for projects $50,000 or larger.

Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin said the school system also has an additional $500,000 left over from technology funds for capital projects.

Griffin made recommendations to the Chilton County Board of Education on how to use the money during a work session on Nov. 30.

A capital plan had already been approved by the board and a facility assessment conducted. Griffin’s recommendations were based on these.

His top priorities were listed as paving the parking area at the Verbena Annex, paving the Verbena High School parking lot, putting a retrofit metal roof on Thorsby High School and a new roof on the LeCroy Career Technical Center main building.

Griffin said he wanted to have all of the projects he was suggesting completed within two years. However, he said cost of the projects might require prioritization. Maintenance Supervisor Freddy Smith said since school systems across the state are all receiving additional funding from the bond issue, they will all be doing projects keeping the construction industry busy.

“A lot of these systems had shovel-ready projects,” Griffin said.

A number of classroom additions, including those on the capital plan, were discussed. Griffin said adding classrooms at CCHS would eliminate the need for portable classrooms.

Additions at Isabella High School and LeCroy Career Technical Center would address crowding.

IHS has an existing building that was designed to have a second floor of classrooms added to it. IHS Principal Ricky Porter said the proposed addition would add two classrooms on the main floor and four on top.

The board discussed possibilities for Jemison High School to renovate the back property and give the school more space. Smith said filling in the ditch would require special engineering and “it’s such a huge drainage area we shouldn’t mess with it.” Instead, he proposed looking at doing something on the left side of the building where a practice field is now. Board member Chris Smith asked how the best option would be decided.

“I do think we do need to have some type of plan where we say this is what we are looking at needing at Jemison, so what is the best use of the land,” JHS Principal Kendall Jackson said.

Jackson said she would like to keep the practice field.

The need for an expanded band room at JHS was also discussed.

Chris Smith said the land issue seemed more involved than the other projects.

Griffin said the school system would need to bring in engineers to know what options were available.

Other paving projects included expanding the parking lots at Central Office and at PASS Academy, parking overlays for Thorsby and Maplesville high schools, paving a back parking lot and access road at Chilton County High School as well as the Transportation/ Maintenance building.

Board President Pam Price asked if they would get a better price if they bid all of the paving projects together. Freddy Smith said he did not think so.

He said the MHS and THS parking lots and been sprayed with a tar top layer that needed to be done again. He estimated that this would preserve the parking lot for about 15 years.

A bathroom addition at LCTC, a multipurpose building at Jemison Middle, stadium bathrooms for Thorsby and a place to house the school systems servers were also discussed.

Various bleachers upgrades and replacing all stadium lights with LEDs was recommended.

Griffin said the LEDs will likely pay for themselves in energy cost savings.

He also recommended generators for all of the school lunchrooms that would automatically power the coolers if the power goes out.

The Board of Education is expected to consider moving forward with some of Griffin’s recommendations at the Dec. 15 meeting at Clanton Middle School. A work session will be held at 5 p.m. with a voting session at 6 p.m.