Board approves new school design

Published 4:32 pm Friday, July 27, 2007

Gary Bailey, the architect hired by the Pearl River County School District to draw plans for the new elementary school, described the preliminary design to the board last night. The concept is for easy access and good security.

“The k-3 grades will be in a separate wing from the 4-6 grades since there is quite a bit of difference between the two,” Bailey said. “It will be a spoke-concept design with the administration in the center of the two wings.”

He said the design will allow for growth up to 800 students because adding on classrooms will be much easier: Just add a classroom on at the end of the spoke. Another part of the design is a multi-purpose auditorium that would hold more than 1,000 people. When a public function was in progress, each wing could be closed off so the public would not be able to access the classrooms.

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Each hall also would have bathrooms for teachers and for students. The multi-purpose/entertainment area would have separate facilities.

The classroom wings would be constructed with block and bricks, Bailey said, with the front being made from pre-cast concrete made to look like stone. The front of the administration building would be in the shape of a little red school house, but made from the same pre-cast concrete with a wide, permanent canopy for covered pick-up and drop-off of students and a vestibule for security.

“Of course,” he said, “this is all diagrammatic without the details. Once the bond issue passes, then we’ll add the details. We are recommending that all the classrooms have built-in cabinets and sinks to make them as functional as possible.”

Another functional attribute of the new school would be the library. Superintendent Dennis Penton has initiated a preliminary talk with the Pearl River County public library system director, Linda Tufaro, about a partnership with the public system and the school to staff the library after hours, inventory management and cost sharing. There are only two public libraries in the county, one in Picayune and one in Poplarville. With one in the Salem area, the system would service the county better.

In the superintendent’s report, Penton told the board the portable buildings for the McNeill campus probably would not be in place when the school year started. The principals are working on places for the students until the buildings are installed.

He also told the board there are several positions still to be filled, including teaching positions, and they were searching out for the best candidates to fill those positions. He said everyone would be ready for school to start.

“Perhaps a rough edge or two,” he said, “but, ready to start.”

The board approved hiring graduate assistants to assist certified coaches on staff to ease the strain on the staff since it has been difficult to find and hire more certified coaches. The ones hired will be those who are working toward their teaching degree and preferably in their third or fourth year of school.

The high school no longer will sell game tickets before the evening of the game. There are not enough tickets sold to warrant continuing the pre-sale and it has been disturbing work flow in the office.

“We just find it really difficult to run school business effectively when people drop in Wednesday through Friday wanting to buy tickets to the game on Friday night,” said Loren Harris, the high school principal.