Board meets to discuss new high school
by Briana Webster
Nov 13, 2013 | 1690 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During a work session held Tuesday night by the Jasper City Board of Education, members were presented with options and design changes that would fit their $52 million budget for a new high school.

Superintendent Robert Sparkman retraced the steps of the previous board going back about nine years ago when the process first started taking shape, noting the only member present on the board during that time was current board president Rene Simmons.

“The thing that is important for the board, and for the community, to understand is this is something that has been in the planning stages for really over nine years. The board purchased the property nine years ago, and that’s 102 acres that we’re trying to build this high school complex on,” Sparkman said. “... We’ve been given $52 million, and so that’s the budget we have. What we’ll need to do at this point ... is to begin to present to you as board members scenarios, options of how we’re going to need to change the design of this project.”

Bill McReynolds of Hoar Program Management opened up the presentation by explaining what they were given to work with on the budget that the city council had agreed on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

“Once we were told a week ago that the number was $52 million what we did is say, ‘OK, let’s quantify different areas within the program and create, strip it down, what we would have to do to get to $52 million and put numbers by different components within the program that would be taken out,’” McReynolds said. “Basically, create you a laundry list of what we have to do to get to $52 million.” 

Rick Lathan of Lathan Associates Architects chimed in, saying they tried to “preserve the classroom space” as much as possible, adding earlier that there are only three rooms left available in the design that’s not assigned to a teacher.  

Jay Kirkpatrick of Hoar Program Management detailed the two options that board members are left to contemplate.

Option 1 would be to remove the entire athletic complex and site work, which includes full athletic site work, parking and build-out on the proposed site; in-school field house program; walking track area; dance program; and culinary arts program.

The grand total amounts to $52,960,878 with option 1; however, “there’s still roughly a 6 percent contingency,” Lathan interjected.

Option 2 consisted of a deductive and additive options’ list. For example, if the board decided to eliminate the JROTC program and the health science program, they would shave off an estimated $557,136. Therefore, if they cut from the deductive list, they could then take from the additive list and add back tennis courts or an in-stadium track.

All board members agreed that academics and safety come first, especially when the idea was presented about a bridge or tunnel at Viking Drive that would go from the new site to the current site for students to use the fieldhouse, football field, tennis courts, etc. that are already located at the existing campus. McReynolds also mentioned at the end of the meeting about looking into a possible federal grant, but it would be opened for public use as well.

“Some of the options that you have is under an alternate scenario, where you design them as alternates and bid it, see how your numbers come out,” Lathan said. “Then if you decide, for instance, to eliminate the PE gym, take $1.1 million and take it over to the existing football site to improve things there, it at least gives you an idea of how much it would cost to do the PE gym.

“If the numbers come in great, it may be that you can add it,” he continued. “We do that all the time, where we design in alternates.”

Toward the close of the meeting and afterward Simmons said, “We certainly need time to digest this. ... It was a lot of information, a lot of helpful information. I’ve been working on this with past boards and the current board for nine years, and I’m finally glad we’re moving forward. We’ll take this information, digest it and wait for more information from Hoar Construction and Lathan and Associates and just go from there.” 

Sparkman, board members and associates with Hoar Program Management and Lathan Associates Architects agreed that they will take the ideas they were given at the work session, develop them and look at the costs. Sparkman said he and the board will prioritize what the school needs, meet again and share their findings with the city council.

Mayor Sonny Posey was invited to the work session Tuesday to represent the city. He said, “[There was] a lot of information and a lot to digest. A monumental task lies ahead for all of us. ... Cutting back is one thing, but having to cut back too much is another thing.”