Partnership School opening delayed

From left to right: school board members Melissa Luckett, Keith Coble and John Brown conduct district business at the board meeting Tuesday night. it was announced that the completion date of the Partnership School has been pushed back to fall 2019 at the meeting. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

The $27.5 million Partnership School’s completion date has been pushed back yet again, following delays to the dirt work due to rainy weather throughout the summer.

The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees received an update on construction of the Partnership School from project architect Bruce Wood of JH & H Architects Tuesday. The date was pushed back from January 2019 to fall 2019.

Wood said he had developed a system for the remainder of the dirt work, which was supposed to be complete by Sept. 18, moving the anticipated date for dirt work to be complete to Nov. 2.

"We want the building package bid close to that date, so we're moving the advertising for bids," Wood said. "This is still kind of a moving target, but right now we're looking at Sept. 26 and receiving bids Oct. 22. We're hoping for board approval at the Nov. 14 meeting."

The amount of time allotted for construction was also increased to 16 months, a more comfortable time-frame for the contractor.

"It's more of a realistic time-frame with construction for that side of the project," Wood said.

Teachers, administrators and others who will work in the Partnership School once it's complete have also met with architects to learn about the plans and give input on the project.

“There’s a lot of anticipation and excitement about the opening of this new school, and I think we’re all a little disappointed, but the revised schedule gives us some flexibility,” said Superintendent Eddie Peasant. “It definitely eliminates the additional planning required for a move in the middle of the school year, and it will allow us to adequately prepare the building to be ready to welcome students on the first day.”

The Partnership School is funded by the district, Mississippi State University and the State of Mississippi. Once complete, it will house all sixth and seventh graders in the district and serve as a laboratory for the MSU College of Education.

In June the district announced that Armstrong Middle School Principal Julie Kennedy would serve as the Partnership School’s Principal

Wood added that utility easements were almost finalized between MSU, Oktibbeha County and 4 County Electric.

The board also approved its 2016-2017 budget in the meeting. The budget was approved 4 to 0 along with other financial items. This year’s total revenue is $58,063,507 and total expenditures are $81,026,717. The difference between revenue and expenditure is attributed to construction funds, which must be spent by the end of the fiscal year.

Most departmental budgets will see a 10 percent decrease due to a decrease in the district’s Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) funding. The district’s millage rate will remain the same despite the value of a mill going up from last year.

Despite the cuts, the district will no longer have to issue tax anticipation notes to cover funds the district was waiting on to become available in spring due to an increase in its fund balance.