Fayetteville City School System continues to move forward with capital projects, including a number of facility improvements system wide.
And while a number of improvements have already been made or are in the works, the system is facing the prospect of some expensive projects down the pike, including replacement of the air conditioning system at Fayetteville Middle School.
“The system in place now is 18 years old, and the parts are obsolete,” said Dr. Janine Wilson, director of Fayetteville City School System. “Not only is the system old and the parts obsolete, but the coolant is almost obsolete to replace. Even if we could fix it, it would be difficult to find the materials to fix it. The most practical thing is to replace it.”
In a recent work session, school board members and system leaders heard from Tim Little, an engineer with OLG Services, Inc., out of Tullahoma, who has spent time examining the system. He is expected to return with a design and better cost estimates, but at present, he projects the cost to be between $550,000 and $600,000.
Next door at Fayetteville High School, roof units need to be replaced, something Trane engineers are already working on, system officials said. That cost is expected to come in around $100,000.
FHS is also experiencing issues with the parquet coming loose on its gymnasium floor, which is original to the school constructed over 50 years ago. A temporary fix to get through the upcoming basketball season can be accomplished for around $3,200; however, replacing the gym floor, as recommended by flooring experts, will set the system back around $163,000.
Already, the system has completed some other much-needed improvements and made some capital purchases, including a new special education bus and approximately $167,000 in Chromebooks for students.
During fall break last week, Askins School saw long overdue kitchen improvements in the school’s cafeteria, with the addition of a serving line and replacement of equipment that had been in operation for several decades, a $200,000 project. Painting of Askins’ classrooms was completed over the summer, and the classrooms at Fayetteville High were expected to be painted over fall break. Classrooms at Fayetteville Middle will be painted during Christmas break. Old carpet at FMS was expected to be replaced with tile over the break last week.
Already this year, the gym roof at Askins has been repaired, along with water lines and some exterior lighting there and at FHS. Lockers original to the high school were replaced, and new tables and chairs were purchased to replace student desks, which are being utilized at the middle school. Technology purchases include upgrading the system’s phone system and replacing servers and switches.
Considering future capital projects, school board members had asked John Cheney, a designer with Cope Architecture, to bring them ideas and cost estimates on better securing entrances at Askins School and Fayetteville High, as well as estimates on a CDC room expansion, locker room renovations, a CTE building, school bus garage and gymnasium. Cheney returned with three package options ranging from $9.1 million without a gymnasium option to $17.5 million and $17.8 million with the gym included.
Last year, the city school system received $8.6 million, as required by state law, as part of the county's $32 million bond issue to fund the construction of the new Blanche Elementary School and an addition at Lincoln County High School. The city school system’s capital projects budget adopted for the 2020 fiscal year is $8.1 million.
“We’re going to have to shave a whole lot to even get into budget,” Wilson said after a recent work session when Cheney presented figures. “We don’t intend to spend everything we have in capital outlay. I think the board is going to take a hard look at all the plans and a hard look at repair and replacement of things that have outgrown their shelf life and come up with a plan.
“Some of the plans (presented by Cheney) are just out of our fiscal capacity,” she said. “There is no way we can afford either of the two projects that included a gym. That’s out of consideration.”
The board is expected to meet in another work session next week to continue its discussion of future capital projects.
“We have a lot to discuss and a lot of shaving to do,” Wilson said.