April 25, 2013
Architectural renderings of the proposed interior floor plan of the new Intermediate School and the exterior appearance were unveiled at the Holly Springs Rotary Club last week.
Irene Walton Turnage, city school district superintendent, and Adam Andrews, in charge of operations, were invited to present the proposed plans and discuss what the district’s current needs are for classroom space. They were the invited speakers by Harvey Payne, who had the program last week.
Turnage emphasized that the district’s buildings on the present Intermediate School campus on West Valley Street are failing, due to roofing problems and out-of-date wiring. The school currently houses fourth, fifth and sixth grades, while the third grade was sent back to the Primary School to alleviate crowding at the Intermediate School campus. The crowding at the Intermediate School is due in great part to the closing off of some rooms that are unsafe.
Buildings have structural damage or are inadequate for today’s technology, she said.
If the referendum on a $10 million school bond to build a new Intermediate campus at Maury Street fails to pass on the May 7 ballot, the district will have to ask for about $8 million to repair and renovate the old buildings on West Valley and replace leaking roofs, Turnage said.
In a few years, middle school students will be required to take state curriculum tests on computers and next year the fifth and eighth grade science test will be taken by computer, Turnage said. The old classrooms on West Valley were equipped with a single electrical outlet in each classroom, insufficient wiring for today’s teaching and testing requirements.
Turnage said the school district would save operating costs immediately if it had a new Intermediate School building. There are safety issues at the schools as well. At the Primary School, there needs to be a security system installed and a new roof put on. The windows and roof at the Junior High School need replacing and the high school gymnasium needs air conditioning. These additional repairs and improvements are included in the bond request.
The oldest building at the Intermediate campus was built in 1969 and the newest building at the school is the gymnasium, Andrews said. The proposed new school would be located on 26 acres behind the Primary School and there is plenty of room to add onto the structure, he said.
Turnage said the district will still have to patch the buildings on the old Sims school campus, while the new school facility is under construction. It could be ready in two years, if the referendum passes, she said. The cost for the new Intermediate School includes site preparation and parking lots around the school.
Andrews said the expected cost to build the school is about $120 per square foot.
“It is not a gold-plated school, but a nice school,” he said.
About 3,000 registered voters living in the school district but outside the city limits will also be able to vote the referendum, according to circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter. She said the school district needs to be sure that people living outside the city limits but who are paying ad valorem taxes for their children to go to the city school district should know that they can vote on the referendum on May 7. The election will take place at the Holly Springs Fire Station.
Anyone who has questions about voting on the referendum, if they live in the school district but reside outside the city limits, may call the city clerk’s office in Holly Springs for more information on how the voting will take place.
These individuals living outside the city limits will not be able to vote for aldermen or mayor positions, only on the referendum.
Turnage said the district has sent notices to parents by way of their children about the referendum and the district is using all means at its disposal to get the word out to those living outside the city limits but residing in the city school district.
The current school bond for the high school should be retired in eight years or in 2020, Turnage said. So when the new school is built, for a while taxpayers will be paying for two school bonds.
Fred Carlisle asked Turnage if there is any likelihood that the city and county school districts would merge to save money.
Turnage said the two districts already share programs and facilities – the alternative school in the city district and summer school programs.
But consolidation of schools has been studied more recently during the Gov. Haley Barbour administration, Turnage said. A few school consolidations were approved for the Mississippi Delta, but the study did not indicate there would be significant savings by consolidating schools in Marshall County, she said.
“I can’t say we won’t ever do it,” Turnage said. “But research has shown most districts would not save a lot of money.”
Andrews said the interest rate could be as high as 3.5 percent on the bond, but could be lower. The cost to build a school is higher and bond rates are higher now than if the school had been built at the low point during the recession.
Interest rates and construction costs are higher but not as high as they could be if the referendum fails, Turnage said.
There are no federal or state dollars available for construction. Federal dollars could be available if the school was designed to be an emergency shelter, but construction costs would also skyrocket.
Carpenter said she is impressed with the building plan, especially the modular aspect that would allow for expansion of the building if more space is needed later.
Sixty percent of the voters must approve the referendum for it to pass.
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