BOE approves construction of new central office
by Emily McLain
Dec 09, 2013 | 1314 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SYLACAUGA – The Board of Education unanimously approved construction of a new central office building at a meeting Monday night.

The proposed 15,000 square foot building, estimated at about $1.9 million, will be located on the campus of the existing central office on Fourth Street. The school system hopes to bid the job in the spring to be completed by the end of 2014, Superintendent Dr. Todd Freeman said.

The board had also considered locating the central office in the former Frontier Bank building on Broadway Avenue. At a work session preceding the meeting, Freeman said to locate at Frontier Bank, including purchase and renovation of the building, would cost about $1,988,290 – significantly higher than the $1,887,970 price tag estimated for new construction.

“I am very mindful of what we’re trying to do with the cost of this particular project, because behind it is Phase 4 of (Sylacauga High School renovations), and we want to make sure we are prepared to absorb those costs,” Freeman said.

While the former bank would offer a convenient downtown location and ample parking, Freeman and the BOE ultimately saw more benefits to new construction. Some benefits mentioned at the work session include: fewer unknowns than renovating an existing building; building size that is comparable to the average central office size; space to accommodate office needs; generous storage; teacher training and meeting space; all operations can remain at one location; and the ability to host government and community functions.

“I do not believe the central office needs to be Taj Mahal, but it does need to well represent a strong system,” Freeman said. “It needs to be something we’re proud of and finding that balance is very important there.”

Board member Skip Smithwick asked if the price of Frontier Bank could be negotiated to around $500,000 rather than the $795,000 price given. He said “if we could negotiate a cheaper price with FDIC, that would be a great fit for downtown. You’d have employees eating and spending money downtown and make a viable building. It would make downtown look better rather than having a large, vacant building. But if they won’t, it’ll sit there.”

Freeman said he “got the strong impression” that is the lowest price possible for the 18,000 square foot building.

According to information provided to the board, the school system can complete its remaining construction projects, which includes the central office and three more phases of renovations at SHS, with roughly $500,000 left in its construction budget. That budget is comprised of about $16 million in bond money from the city as well as annual Public School Funds provided through the state based on enrollment, Freeman said. The current balance, after several capital projects that have already been completed, is roughly $11.3 million.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the BOE:

O Recognized Teachers of the Year from each school, as follows: Deborah McDaniel of Indian Valley Elementary; Yolonda Clemons of Pinecrest Elementary; Gay Coley of Nichols-Lawson Middle School; and Arista Scott of SHS.

O Heard Freeman announce Child Nutrition Program director Kelley Wassermann received the Alabama Best Practices award for fiscal management of a CNP.

O Heard art teacher Mindy Buckley recognize winners and participants in the recent Alabama Cotton Festival art contest.

O Approved resignation of Lisa Fuller, special education instructional assistant, and Cheryl Tubbs, day program teacher.

O Approved employment of: Saturday School tutors Shelley Bailey, John Blackmon, Lorrie Forbus, Melissa Lewis, Chad Littleton, Arista Scott, Jeff Steers, Sean Stevens, Marty Turner; student lunchroom worker Daytton Cleveland; substitute teachers Gwenevere Christian, Lisa Colwell, Haley Edwards, Sheila Giddens, John Gladness, Glynda Grier, Orlando Jackson, Austin Martin, Andre Wilson; extended day program teacher Robin Justice; half-time English teacher Rhonda Vincent.

O Approved a supplement of $918 plus benefits paid by the Soccer Booster Club to soccer coach Billy Faitcloth.

O Was notified of a financial transaction not in compliance with the board’s fiscal management policies. The transaction regarded the timely receipt and depositing of funds and has been corrected, Freeman said.

O Approved payments totaling $1.7 million for October and $2 million for November.

O Approved a change order to deduct about $3 million from the cost of Phase 1 of SHS renovations. This money was recovered from owner paid materials and sales tax savings from the general contractor’s contract as well as reconciliation of contract allowances.

O Approved a request to solicit proposals for energy management solutions and heard a report from Trane about energy savings opportunities in the schools.

O Heard presentations regarding professional development and technology changes to align with Plan 2020 standards.

The board’s next regular meeting is Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the central office. A strategic planning work session will be held Jan. 23 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the central office.

Contact Emily McLain at eadams@dailyhome.com.