By SHEA STASKOWSKI
The Starkville School District will be seeking bids to renovate restrooms in all school facilities following unanimous approval to do so by its Board of Trustees Tuesday night.
District officials have until September 2012 to spend the remaining $3.6 million of the $26.5 million bond issue approved by voters three years ago for a major renovation and expansion of school facilities.
Several proposed projects for the remaining bond money were introduced during the city school board’s November meeting, including the building of a fieldhouse for Starkville High School athletics, installing air conditioning in all gymnasiums, renovating the Greensboro Center, paving the SHS and Millsaps shared parking lot and fencing projects at both Sudduth and SHS.
During the November board meeting, board member Pickett Wilson expressed her desire to move the restroom renovation to the top of the list.
Since the meeting, Assistant Supt. Walter Gonsoulin was tasked with collecting project cost estimates for each project. Returning with an estimate of $1.3 million for the renovation of 25 restrooms, the board agreed that the project deserved to be at the top of the list since it affects the most students.
After much discussion, the board could not come to an exact agreement regarding the air conditioning of the gymnasiums, which is estimated to cost $1.3 million, or the building of a field house, which is projected to cost $1.5 million.
The board decided to act on any athletics-related projects until after Athletic Director Stan Miller gives a presentation to the board during its January meeting regarding the future of the athletic programs and facilities.
Wilson said that since all board members agree the restroom renovations are the top priority, it would be beneficial to begin to seek actual bids for the project as the estimated figures may not be anywhere near as expensive, or cost effective, as the actual project may be, she said. Once the project has a bid, the board will have a better idea of how much of the bond issue will be left to spend.
District goals refined
The board also neared a final decision on the goals for the district. After many meetings with the board and school administrators, Supt. Judy Couey brought two goals before the board.
The first goal stated, “Be a high performing district by 2012, which means 65 percent of all students will score proficient or above.” The second goal stated,” Increase the graduation rate from 60.4 percent to 75 percent by 2012.
Board member Keith Coble expressed that he was “troubled” the goals did not include the programs the district values, such as the arts and athletics.
Couey explained that the issue was not that those areas were not note-worthy, but it was simply a matter of measurability, which is a difficult term when talking about athletics and art programs, she said, and an important aspect when talking about goals.
After working with the wording, a third goal for the district was introduced: “The Starkville School District will maintain quality and quantity of non-core area programs in the arts, advanced course work, athletics and community service.”
Assessment program purchased
In new business, the board approved the purchase of School Improvement Network PD 360 and Operation 360, which is a professional development and educator assessment program.
Assistant Supt. Beth Sewell explained the benefits of the program center on its flexibility. The program is accessible whenever teachers have time to participate since it is an online program and is unlimited.
Couey added that other benefits include teachers will be able to take part in professional development sessions that are pertinent and meaningful to them whenever they need to, not just when a module or conference is available.
“For a very small cost, this will give us year-round access to professional development a teacher wants,” Sewell explained.
Couey posed a hypothetical scenario that perhaps a teacher is interested in differentiated instruction, but doesn’t quite understand the concept.
That teacher would be able to log onto this program and have video instruction of several different types of differentiated instruction and how to incorporate it into the classroom, she posed. Teachers will also be able to renew licenses, and the program will be available to all staff, including cafeteria staff and transportation staff.
The program will cost the district roughly $17,000 per year for three years.
Sewell explained that the money to pay for the program will not come out of the regular school budget, but from federal dollars that are mandated solely for professional development.
Before the board adjourned, Couey gave a brief report on the damages the district incurred because of tornado that hit Starkville Nov. 29.
Millsaps incurred the most damage as a large section of the roof was ripped back, which exposed the interior to water and debris damage. The remaining damage was mostly seen in athletic field fencing.
Comptroller Rob Logan explained preliminary estimates came in at $80,000, but that insurance would pay a large portion of the cost, and that the Millsaps roof has already been fixed with money in the budget as it would be replenished after the insurance money came through.
The next board meeting will be held Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Greensboro Center.