Alternative school project questioned
Article Author: Emily Dilbeck
Discussion about repairs to the alternative school fueled contention at Monday night’s School Board meeting.
The alternative school is located in the old Fieldhouse next to Benton Elementary. At the end of last year, the Fire Marshall said the building failed to meet code and repairs needed to be made before students could be allowed back in.
Director of Schools Dr. James Jones told the Board the only project left to complete was to install smoke detectors and wire them to the school’s system. Special fire resistant sheetrock and new entry and exit doors had already been installed.
District 3 School Board member April Trantham asked why the project had not been bid out to various contractors. An architecture firm and subcontractors had been hired, rather than made to bid for the construction.
Jones said he thought only a project exceeding $10,000 needed to be bid out, whereas this one was planned to cost less than that. School Board member Gary Silvers said he thought the same.
Trantham said she had the policy right in front of her and it said any project of $5,000 or more needed to be bid out. She added that the School Board should have been informed of this project before it began.
“We broke policy,” Trantham repeated. She said she had also been in contact with the Fire Marshall and knew what he wanted.
Dr. Jones said he took responsibility for the confusion.
Concerns were also raised by District 3 School Board member L.W. Smith regarding a maintenance truck that had been purchased without prior approval by the School Board.
“You’ve got a good point, L.W.,” Dr. Jones said, “but were you really going to turn me down when the school needed this?”
“If they need it, they need it,” said District 3 member James (Mush) Davis.
“Of course not,” Smith said, “but it would be nice to know about these things before hand. Is that going to be a hassle?”
“Not at all,” Jones said.
Road Superintendent Roy Gene Thomason spoke to the School Board about upcoming State road projects that would be affecting South Polk Elementary. Old Federal Road, which runs next to the school, has been deemed a safety concern after a high number of fatalities and incapacitating wrecks.
The State has created a new safety program that works to make roads that fall into this category safer. Thomason explained this was the only road that would affect the school system and that no construction would be necessary, but updates would be made to signs and speed bumps. This would include a new overhead sign announcing a school zone and special speed zone, as well as new fluorescent signs and arrows directing traffic in and out of the school. A new stop bar was also planned for the school’s entrance and striping and reflectors would be added to the road.
Construction is planned to begin in August.
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