After numerous work sessions eyeing school system needs, the city board of education is moving forward with a list of capital projects totaling approximately $4 million.
In action during last week’s meeting of the city school board, members voted to authorize Dr. Janine Wilson, director of schools, and system staff to seek firmer cost estimates and begin the bid process on several projects determined to be priorities for the system.
The board has held several work sessions over the past year and heard from architects and engineers. In a work session held just prior to last Monday’s regular meeting, the school board agreed upon a list of projects that will be funded with a portion of the $8.6 million received as a result of the county’s $32 million bond issue.
“Several of these are ‘have tos’,” said Mark Clark, chair of the facilities committee in making the motion to authorize system staff to move forward on the projects and report back to the board with findings. “Several of these are absolutely putting some of our student programs first because we have to look out for the facility needs.”
A high priority is better securing entrances at Ralph Askins School and Fayetteville High School, projects estimated to cost $120,000 at the elementary school and $65,000 at the high school. The third city school, Fayetteville Middle, already has a secure entrance that restricts access to the building.
“There are some things that seem very fundamental to our system,” Clark said. “One is security. Improving the security and entrances at Askins and the high school are very important to us.
“We clearly have a high priority of improving the facility for CDC students,” he added. “We want to spend some money at the high school on that.”
Some of the costliest projects will be those to correct infrastructure deficiencies.
“We have some infrastructure problems, the HVAC at the middle school and water lines and pipe issues at the high school, that just absolutely have to be taken care of,” Clark said.
Estimates put the HVAC project at Fayetteville Middle in the neighborhood of $1 million, while water line replacements at FHS are projected to cost between $200,000 to $250,000.
Eliminating portable classrooms currently housing some of the career and technical education (CTE) classes has been a focus of the board. Construction of a new CTE building could cost around $2 million, plus groundwork.
“We finally have an opportunity to construct suitable, yet to be determined, but suitable CTE classroom space for those programs that are part and parcel to what we’re about,” Clark said.
Additionally, the board is eyeing replacement of the gym floor and bleachers at FHS at an estimated cost of $180,000. The gym floor was installed when the school was built over 50 years ago.
“It has been resurfaced as many times as it can stand, and it won’t take another sanding, so that’s going to have to be replaced,” he explained. “We also have bleachers we need to address inside that gym. We also have some dressing rooms off the gym that desperately need some re-work.”
Fayetteville High’s football field and the track area are being eyed for improvements totaling approximately $350,000.
“We have put off for a number of years any significant investment in the football field/track,” Clark said. “That track, as you well know, is something that the community uses. It’s been falling apart, and frankly, we just haven’t had the funds to address what is going to be a significant cost.”
The board is also seeking cost estimates on constructing indoor facilities for the FHS and FMS sports teams.
“A few years ago, when we started the high school, we were able to get, thanks to the cooperation of Askins, a makeshift indoor training facility for the spring sports teams,” he said. “We knew at the time that was going to be an interim solution, and clearly we want to address it and see if we can afford to do some sort of an indoor facility to accommodate those spring sports.”
Other sports that aren’t considered spring sports would also use the facility at various times during the year, Clark noted.
The purchase of a new school bus, estimated to cost $100,000, is also included on the list of priorities.
“It looks like the total price tag, as best we can tell, is something just over $4 million for all of those projects. Based on the financial report we just heard, those are well within our means to pursue,” Clark said, referring to the system’s annual audit report given during the school board meeting by Paul Young with Putnam & Hancock.
The board unanimously approved the new “to do” list, asking system staff to move forward with securing cost estimates or beginning the bid process. The board will approve the projects on an individual basis as final numbers are presented.
“I think this board is going to be positioned to approve those as we have the refined cost estimates,” Clark said.