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Stop put to plans for district alternative school

In an effort to remove all students and teachers from classroom activities held in trailers, Superintendent Ike Haynes has long been interested in building a new Alternative Education building on the school land in Carson adjacent to the Career Center. The cost for the building was estimated at $450,000, but bids opened at Monday’s meeting came in upwards of $800,000. The lowest bid was from Richard Womack Construction at $674,000. All bids were rejected by the board.

Currently, Alternative Education classes are being held in trailers on the north end of Prentiss High School. “The idea is to centralize classes for the entire county and hopefully be able to enhance offerings of community college classes,” said Haynes who requested the board approve going “back to the drawing board” with architects Landry and Lewis for a less expensive design.

Board members suggested since $25,000 has already been spent on plans that have yet to result in a building, that the focus be on school consolidation and no further funding be put toward architectural plans.

In what is most certainly he most important building project ever undertaken by the district, Haynes came to Monday’s school board meeting with a recommendation that the board hire Volkert Capital Planning Services to review the financial aspects of consolidating the schools. At a cost from Volkert of $240 per hour, not to exceed 40 hours ($9,600) for the assessment, the board did not agree.

“This is a $25 million project and we need to be able to show tangible evidence of significant savings as a result of consolidation and present a realistic picture of what the county can do,” said Haynes.

Only three board members were present at the Monday meeting with Chairman Jesse Holloway and Von Norwood not in attendance. As acting chairperson, Beulah Crumedy Varnado Walker recommended not approving the hire until more input could be received from other members of the board. “I’m all for moving forward with consolidation,” said Walker, “but we should wait for input from the others,”

• The board voted to use $146,000 in funds being reserved for a new track and field surface to offset costs for renovation and construction of the library at PHS which has had serious issues with mold that could affect accreditation. The board accepted the bid from Nobles Construction at $175,000. “We will transfer those funds,” said Haynes, “and only have to come up with $24,000.”

• The company that conducts background checks on prospective school employees increased rates, forcing the district to raise the fee from $32 to $42.

• The Superintendent congratulated both district football teams for their success. “I was at the PHS vs. Forest game and the score was 12-9 with Prentiss leading and five minutes left, then Forest scored. We are very proud of them for making it to the playoffs,” he said.