• 70°

Construction begins to expand Demopolis board office

Construction began last week on additions to the office of the Demopolis City Board of Education at the corner of Pettus and Cedar. Linda Agee, custodian of funds, said Thursday the additions would allow for more storage space ("a top priority"), restrooms, a new boardroom, a new office for superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill as well as two other new office spaces.

The $1,038,000 project is being funded by $223,000 from the PSCA (Public School and College Authority) and a QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds) loan, funding that can only be used for capital improvements, Agee said.

In addition, the Q-ZAB loan is providing money for renovating all the restrooms at Westside Elementary School, U.S. Jones Elementary and the Demopolis Middle School.

A new floor will be put into the lower building at U.S. Jones, and the gym floor, stage and stage curtain and a band room/locker room space will also be renovated in that school, she said.

The current construction is being done by Lovelady Construction of Selma with McKee and Associates of Montgomery as the contractor.

Other construction using QZAB money includes a new roof on the lower building at U.S. Jones and a new roof over the cafeteria at DMS. The U.S. Jones roof will cost $108,000 with Butch Grimes as the contractor, and the roof at DMS will cost $62,500 with McKee as the contractor.

Agee is hopeful that a portion of the new construction might be finished before school starts but likely it will be finished in the middle of the first semester of the 2003-2004 school year.

All the geo-thermal air conditioning systems have been completed at U.S. Jones, Westside and DMS, Agee said. The systems were installed by Premier Service of Tuscaloosa with Grimes as contractor.

All that is left is for the contractor to go through his "punch list" or check list to make sure the systems are completely installed, she said.

In a related matter, the Demopolis school system is working on the 2004 fiscal budget as if there will at least be a six percent cut in funding, Agee said. Despite the work of the legislature to pass Governor Bob Riley’s tax reform plan, the system must submit a budget to the state by no later than September 15.

A vote on the Riley tax plan would not come about until September 12, if that early, Agee said, and if passed by Alabama voters, the system would not see significant tax revenue until the end of the 2004 school year.

The Demopolis system laid off four custodians, two lunchroom personnel and a teacher aide in April anticipating cuts in fiscal year 2004. Five teachers retired, Agee said, and a few left the system for personal reasons. The system will likely not replace some teacher units, she said.

The next meeting of the Demopolis City Board of Education will be at 5:15 p.m. on June 18.