Thursday, March 27, 2014

Middle School project still “on schedule”

J-E News Editor
Webster County School Board blew through a short agenda on Monday night in near record time, wrapping up in just over a half hour.
The Webster County Middle School project has suffered through some delays since the school board initially voted to move forward with construction almost two years ago. Originally construction was expected to be completed in time for the current school year, but unforeseen delays associated with state permitting pushed the opening back far enough that, in November of 2012, the board had to ultimately delay the project by a year.

Now the project has reached the point of no return. The $4.2 million dollar construction has little more than four months to be completed before middle schoolers will arrive on the Dixon campus. A lot of work remains to be completed, including renovations to the cafeteria the middle school will share with Webster County High School and Dixon Elementary. With weather pushing the end of school back, that means construction in the cafeteria cannot even begin until the last day of class on June 4, 2014.
Architect Marcus Highland with Clotfelter-Samokar, the firm that engineered and is over seeing the project, visited with the school board on Monday to update them on the current situation.
“I visited the middle school project today,” he told board members. “There has been significant improvement in the last two weeks. Inside renovations are moving along quite well. Some of the outside work to the new addition has been affected by the weather, but we’re still on schedule.”
In other business, Assistant Superintendent Riley Ramsey and technology director Mike Stone unveiled the new websites for Webster County Schools. The new sites are supposed to be more accessible for visitors, and easier for staff members to update.
According to Stone, the principal at each school and one person that he designate will be placed in charge of keeping the websites updated.
At present the final day of classes for Webster County students is expected to be June 4. Currently House Bill 410 (HB410) is still circling the capital in Frankfort. If passed that bill would excuse up to ten days for schools that have been closed due to snow. HB410 was passed by the house on March 14, 2014 with an 82-8 vote. In the week and a half since it has been passed back and forth between the Senate and the Senate Education Committee.
“I spoken to the state representative from my home district,” said Superintendent Pete Galloway. “Apparently the Education Commissioner wants the final approval of the number of days, but the house of representatives seem to think it should be left up to the local school superintendents.”
“We have a bunch of supposedly smart people in Frankfort who can’t seem to make a decision,” added board chairman Jeff Pettit.
Briefly the board discussed the possibility of having school on election day, but Sebree Elementary is a polling center. Galloway also mentioned the possibility that the district could resort to having classes on Saturdays if parents and students felt it was necessary to be out of school by the end of May.
There was no action taken on the matter at the present.
The board voted unanimously to give Galloway the authority to accept or reject bids for the sale of five Webster County buses.
“These are all buses that aren’t used,” he said. “They are high mileage, and we really just need to move them.”
Board members also accepted a bid of $198,280 from C & T Design of Evansville, IN for the purchase of new equipment for the cafeteria.