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CCSD releases five-year capital plan

At Wednesday’s monthly school board meeting, Chambers County School District Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge unveiled the district’s five-year Capital Plan.

The plan starts at the beginning of the fiscal year, which starts in October and runs through the end of the 2025 fiscal year.

“Each year, I put before you a five-year plan,” Hodge said speaking to the Chambers County School Board. “It is a plan, so things can change.”

According to Hodge, several of the projects in the first two years of the plan were not in previous years because of a lack of funding to get all the projects done. CCSD was able to refinance a bond issue, which gave the district $450,000 to work with. Also, the state legislature voted to sell bonds for public schools to help finance capital projects.

According to Hodge, CCSD should get roughly $4.5 million from the bond sale, which will be in early October.

The first priority on the plan is already in motion at LaFayette High School, as a renovation with the culinary arts classroom is still in progress. Hodge said there was a problem with the gas and water lines.

In the plan, there are eight projects listed for the 2021 fiscal year. Five of the eight are roofing projects at Inspire Academy, J.P. Powell Middle School, Fairfax Elementary, Bob Harding-Shawmut Elementary and LaFayette Eastside Elementary. The remaining two projects are renovations on bathrooms at W.F. Burns Middle School and  Huguley Elementary School.

“You’ll see that a lot of these [projects listed] are either roofing projects or restroom projects,” Hodge said. “These are all things that we want to get done in 2021. Oct. 1, for us, starts 2021. That’s kind of ambitious. However, if we can bid out all these roofing projects at one time, and we can bid out all these restroom projects at one time, we can get those things done in a timely manner.”

The only projects listed for the 2021 fiscal year that would not be paid from the state bond issue would be the LaFayette Eastside Elementary School and the LaFayette High School culinary arts classroom. Those would both be from local funds, totaling $150,000 in estimated cost.

There are three projects on the list that are expected to be started and finished by the end of the 2022 fiscal year, with a fourth project starting in 2022 but ending in 2023.

The three projects that are expected to be completed in the 2022 fiscal year are all roofing projects. Those schools are WF Burns, Five Points Elementary and LaFayette High School. The fourth plan is renovations of restrooms in Valley High School.

The first item on the plan to start in 2023 is a covered walkway between the main building of Bob Harding-Shawmt and the school’s gym. There are also plans for a covered walkway from the main building to the band room at WF Burns and a covered walkway from the lower classrooms to the cafeteria at Valley High School.

“This can change,” Hodge said of the plan.

A project that isn’t on the plan but could be added is rekeying the whole school system.

“For over 20 years, we have used the same master keys and classroom keys in this school district, but rekeying an entire district is an extremely expensive job because they’re the best locks,” Hodge said. “It would have to be an extensive thing that would have to take place over the summer. I did not put it in the capital plan, but if that’s something we see that we can get done, it can always be added to the plan.”

There is a plan for land acquisition for the CCSD that would be used for a consolidated school if that were announced. The cost of the acquisition would be $250,000 for approximately 100 acres.

School District Vice President Mary Terry asked if the acquisition of land shouldn’t be higher on the list because putting in money for a project while the possibility of consolidation would be a waste of money.

Hodge told her that if there was consolidation, the middle schools would be moved to the current high school buildings.

Hodge also announced the district’s net fund equity is $5,742,226, which is up roughly $1.2 million from a year ago.