Linden BOE moves forward with gym overhaul

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A scheduled $336,000 renovation of the Linden High School gymnasium is one step closer to completion.

At their meeting Monday evening, the Linden Board of Education unanimously approved the signing and sending of the current paperwork necessary for the Special Pool Loan Agreement and Leveraging of Capital Outlay Funds procedures.

These procedures will help arrange for Linden High to receive a temporary $336,000 allocation for the purpose of a much-needed renovation the school’s aging basketball facility.

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The paperwork will allow for three important steps to proceed, said Linden City Schools superintendent Dr. Walter E. Davis.

One was that the plans and information for the renovation can “get back to the state architect” for input from that office. A second is that the forms will help set, Davis said, “the annuization schedule-how we pay this back.”

The plan discussed at the Monday night meeting calls for the interest on the allocation to be paid back by the conclusion of 2005, with two more substantial payments scheduled for February ’06 and August of ’06.

The third part is that bids will be opened soon for the contracting on the renovation project. A special meeting of the Board will be called to officially establish the opening of bids.

“That will probably happen in the next couple of weeks,” Davis said. “Then we have to run it three weeks in the newspaper, and then we’ll get back together and see what we’ve got.”

“We’re looking forward to getting underway,” Davis added. “This is something we really need.”

In other news from the Monday night meeting:

* Davis reported back from a lobbying session in Montgomery on behalf of the proposed 2005-2006 state budget, which includes a controversial 6 percent raise in teacher salary. Davis confirmed that Gov. Riley currently plans on vetoing the budget if approved with the 6 percent raise. Perhaps even more troubling than the veto, Davis said, is the possibility that a special session needed to create a new post-veto budget may be postponed until as late as June. Without a state budget in place, the school itself has no budget to plan for the 2005-2006 school year with. “We are pushing the governor,” Davis said, “that if he does not approve the budget, to call a special session as soon as possible. We need to know. You can’t plan unless you know what you have to work with.” Davis said he would return to the Capitol for more lobbying on Thursday.

* Despite the budget issues, it was reported that “as long as everything checked out,” Linden Elementary would be one of 50 state schools essentially guaranteed the funding to being a pre-kindergarten program. A State Department of Education official visited the school last Friday and gave it her full endorsement. Even without a budget in place, the school could soon receive a confirmation letter that would allow it to begin interviewing applicants for the teaching and aide positions and to create an enrollment system. The program is currently planned to enroll 18 four-year olds.

* The Board adopted a 2005-2006 calendar very similar to last year’s. The calendar is identical to the Marengo County school system’s calendar and, thanks to the recent shift by Demopolis City Schools on spring break dates, Linden and Demopolis will likely have the same week chosen for spring break.

* Thanks to requirements mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the Board accepted for review a new Gun-Free School Policy and Procedures. The NCLB requires a number of exacting specifics to be included in a Gun-Free Policy that the previous “one-paragraph” Linden policy did not, though the Board expressed no difficulties with the old one. “It’s not like we didn’t have one,” said one Board member.

* The Board regretted to accept the retirements of Carole Arledge, System Nurse; Ann Mack, CNP worker at George P. Austin Jr. High; and Ethel Robbins, teacher at George P. Austin Jr. High. All three have had extended tenures with the system (Robbins has taught for 40 years) and the Board expressed their gratitude for their efforts.