District moving fast on projects 9/8/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 8, 2015

District moving fast on projects

By Rupert Howell
South Panola School District is fast moving toward the rebuilding stage from the recovery stage following a July 10 fire that destroyed the kindergarten wing of Batesville Elementary.

School began on time less than a month later and last week trustees approved architect plans for the rebuilding of Batesville Elementary’s lost class rooms and cafeteria as well as separate plans already in progress for a new ninth grade wing at South Panola High School.

Architect Gary Bailey  with Dale/Bailey Association said 20 engineers and five architects have been working overtime to make it happen while referring to the short amount of time taken to come up with plans for the Elementary School’s replacement building.

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Bailey said it may be possible to begin school on time for the 2016-17 school year in the new buildings, weather permitting.

Superintendent  Tim Wilder shook his head while explaining his concerns during last Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting when those plans were adopted, noting time restraints and possible delays as well as transitioning into classrooms once construction is complete.

“Transition is going to be a process,” Wilder said referring to the process of rearranging the district for kindergarten students then adapting it and other relocated classes for appropriate surroundings following the July fire.

“Our staff worked non-stop for one-and-a-half to two weeks,” Wilder said.

“(Did) anybody tell you when you have to have that building ready?” trustee Lygunnah Bean asked of Wilder and then stated, “You’re putting too much pressure on yourself.”

Bailey explained that weather would play a factor in time it takes to complete the elementary project and noted that by March, “We’ll have a good idea.” Time frame at the ninth grade wing was not questioned, with Bailey stating that damages are assessed for construction delays.
“I do not allow rain day extensions on my projects.”

The district will follow standard bidding practices although the board discussed declaring an emergency and obtaining competitive quotes, which is not allowed with new construction. The bid process takes additional time but bids for the planned ninth grade wing and the Elementary School project will be opened within two days of each other.

Estimated cost for the 9th Grade Building is $4,560,241 which is being paid by extending an ongoing three-mill note currently being assessed in the district.

Cost for the Elementary School’s construction is estimated at $5,892,025, which will be paid with insurance proceeds according to the district’s finance director David Rubenstein.

Bailey characterized the new structures “Comfortable, not luxurious, but (made of) very high quality material that will last.”

One noticeable emphasis on both projects was security, with entrances that include bullet proof glass and remote lockable entryways.

“We prefer to not think about it or talk about it, but it’s something we have to do,” the architect stated.