SP complex will be among nation’s best

Published 9:47 am Friday, March 23, 2018

SP complex will be among nation’s best

Dale Bailey Architectural Firm presented this rendering of the proposed new field house and indoor training facility South Panola Trustees hope to complete next year.
The Panolian photo by Jeremy Weldon

By Jeremy Weldon
The South Panola School District Board of Trustees saw this week an architect’s rendering of the new football fieldhouse and indoor training facility the district hopes to build this year.
Board members, at their regular meeting Tuesday, heard from a representative of Dale Bailey Association, architects from Jackson who specialize in educational facility planning, design and construction. The firm’s website says the company has worked in 60 percent of the state’s school districts.
Trustees, impressed with the drawings and floor plans for the new construction, voted to proceed with the bid process, and hope to begin receiving construction bids in the next few weeks.
The plans shown on the board this week are the first look at what has been on the district’s agenda for more than a year – building a modern fieldhouse, complete with locker rooms, meeting areas, coaches’ suites, and attractive common spaces.
The new fieldhouse will sit about where the existing structure is now. At almost 9,800 sq. feet, the new building will be a tight fit, almost reaching the track in the south endzone.
Connected to the new fieldhouse, though, will be the facility that moves South Panola athletics into the upper tier of high school sports complexes nationally.
The planned 25,000 sq. feet indoor training facility will be a multi-use building, able to accommodate football, soccer, baseball, softball, and cheerleading practices.
Running the length of the facility will be a 23-foot wide concrete pad where weights and weight-training stations will be located. This will leave about 40 yards of practice room for coaches.
The indoor facility has been planned with both male and female athletes in mind, and separate restrooms have been drawn into the plans.
Much of the interior has large plate glass sections giving coaches and staff an unobscured view of the entire complex. The indoor facility will sit immediately to the east of the new fieldhouse and will extend very near to the back of the concession stand on the home side of the stadium.
On the other side, better parking management should result in about 10 extra spaces.
The trustees were obviously impressed with the renderings, and had few questions for the architect.
When completed the complex will rival the best of the high school facilities nationwide. Superintendent Tim Wilder and others made trips to Muscle Shoals, Ala., and the Dallas area to view similar complexes.
South Panola will have the first indoor facility of its kind in Mississippi, though other 6A programs are sure to follow the Tigers’ lead and upgrade their own facilities.
Wilder and David Rubenstein, the district’s financial director, remained tight-lipped about the expected cost of the project, even when pressed for an estimate, and understandably so.
They were both quick to point out the project will require no new tax revenue sources as the district has made the final payment on the bonded indebtedness undertaken to build the high school.
The consulting firm was instructed to begin drawing up bid specifications and seeking quotes for construction.
In other board business, the trustees:
• Recognized the high school cheer team for its sixth place finish in national cheer competition in Orlando in February. Cheer team coach Sara Helen Ware accepted a plaque on behalf of the team.
• Recognized the high school’s Junior ROTC rifle team for its national championship earned in Anniston, Ala., last month. Ret. Col. Bob Mims was given a plaque commemorating the achievement.
• Approved the purchase of new band uniforms for about $41,000. Rubenstein said the old uniforms lasted almost 12 years, and this investment in the band program can be expected to get the same usage.
• Approved Rubenstein’s recommendation to change cell phone carriers to C-Spire. The district has negotiated a new plan that will provide faster service at a lower monthly rate. Additionally, the contract allows for review every 18 months with the possibility of lowering rates as technology increases and prices fall.
• Approved a whopping $1.5 million in claims docket items for the past month, although nearly half was represented by a single $660,000 payment made to retire the high school construction’s bond debt.
• Heard a financial standing report from Rubenstien, who stated that the district remains in strong financial shape. His figures indicate the district is two-thirds of the way through this fiscal year, has collected about 65 percent of the anticipated revenue for the year, and has met about 59 percent of expected yearly expenditures.
• Gave approval to an electronic payments system from Heartland School Solutions. Rubenstein said he expects to start the system at the high school first and hopes to expand it district-wide later.
The payment system will allow fees of all kinds, from caps and gowns and field trips to athletic admissions and concessions, to be paid with a debit or credit card, either by swiping on site or online.
• Adjourned into executive session twice – once to hear from a student’s parents about a classroom issue and once to discuss pending land purchase.
The board took no action in the first session, but attorney Ryan Revere announced after the second closed-door meeting the trustees had voted 5-0 giving Wilder permission to make a conditional offer for a piece of land the district hopes to acquire.
The board is not obligated to reveal specifics about the pending deal until the superintendent reaches an agreement with the seller, and presents the details to the whole board.

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