Board OKs WAP proposal

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 26, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; After hearing a report from Superintendent Wayne Vickers at Tuesday&8217;s meeting, the Demopolis Board of Education gave permission for the system to begin negotiations with the shareholders of the former West Alabama Prep facility.

With the board&8217;s blessing, Vickers and two appointed board members can begin to talk with the shareholders of WAP about an asking price for the property and its facility.

To this point, he has been working with architects and inspectors to determine the cost of renovating the building for use. One possible purpose for the facility is an early education facility modeled after the Auburn City Schools Early Childhood Education Center.

According to Vickers, the center would help to reduce overcrowding at the high school, which currently houses 721 students &8212; which is more than the school&8217;s intended capacity of 600-650 students. Enrollment estimates for next year set the expected student population around 805.

Another option for the system is to go ahead with a four-classroom expansion at the high school. But these new classrooms, Vickers said, will still not alleviate limited space in common areas such as hallways.

Vickers also said the cost for renovating the building &8212; $1.2 million &8212; is higher than was initially anticipated. This cost is also higher than the cost of undergoing an expansion at the current high school facility.

During his presentation to the board, Vickers said he tried to give them both the positives and the negatives of the endeavor.

One negative aspect of the purchase could be the time and effort associated with reorganizing the school system. The WAP facility would house Pre-K and kindergarten; Westside Elementary would house first-third grades; U.S. Jones would house fourth-sixth grades; Demopolis Middle School would house seventh-ninth grades and Demopolis High School would revert back to its original purpose of housing 10th-12th grades.

Another negative, Vickers noted, is the added costs of maintaining the building.

Vickers also mentioned the system could decide to do both: purchase the new facility and also do an expansion.

At this point, Vickers said, he and his committee will be working to come to some kind of agreement with the shareholders. If such an agreement occurs, he will then make another presentation to the board.