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High school progress pleases board members

“Oohs” and “aahs” echoed off the walls of the new BrookhavenHigh School building as board members toured the facility Mondayprior to their monthly board meeting.

The building, containing all the latest technology, was combedover thoroughly by board members and other district officials ascompletion nears.

During the tour, architects and contractors were on hand toanswer any questions and explain some of the building’sfeatures.

Board members were most impressed by the carpeted media centerthat will encompass the library, computer rooms and conferenceareas.

“This is going to be really nice. The librarian is going to lovethis,” said board Vice Chairman Amy Valentine.

Superintendent of Education Dr. Sam Bounds pointed out that thepublic will have access to the media center from 3:30-5:30 p.m. onweekdays once it is open.

“We have built it for community pride,” said Bounds, referringto the media center and the rest of the new school facility.

Board members complimented the new building with words like”fantastic” during the tour.

They made special note of the fine arts instruction room, whichwas still under construction, but will contain hardwood floors,special lighting and sound studios.

Other points of interest were the spacious classrooms, largebathrooms, modern lighting, science labs with computer terminals ateach station, clocks in every hall and classroom and a technicaldiscovery lab in the old library.

A modern security system with 38 cameras and motion sensorsthroughout the building was also noticed during the tour.

“It will actually tell you point to point where the motion is soyou can follow an intruder’s every move,” Scott Campbell, thedistrict’s technology specialist, explained to board members.

Board members pointed out areas that were not complete or neededsome touch-up work, such as the need for treads on thestairways.

“They should be in tomorrow (Tuesday), and we’ll put them downas soon as we get them,” said Robert Freeman of CarothersConstruction.

After the tour ended in the area of the guidance suites andadministrative offices on the first floor of the existing building,board members were given an opportunity for a question and answersession, which immediately touched on the question of a March 19thcompletion.

“Everything that’s in our contract, we can have done,” saidScott Murphy of Carothers Construction.

One area that is not in the contract, however, is thelandscaping for the front of the school, which will be bid outseparately.

“I’m not going to compromise on not having it. It may just takea little more time,” Bounds told board members.

Following the tour, board members made their way across thestreet to the central office for their monthly meeting.

Board members were given good news from the district’s businessmanager Susan Quin, before being told bad news about thepossibility of funding cuts.

“We got a clean audit finding for the year ending June 30, 2001,and this audit was performed by the state department,” she said,explaining that a state department audit is required every fewyears.

The office of the state auditor awarded the district acertificate recognizing achievement in reporting financialstatements.

The board only had a short time to smile about theaccomplishment before Bounds announced that extreme budget cutsseemed inevitable for the next few years.

“The budget situation for this year, next year and possibly the2004 school year, is horrible,” he said. “In all my years ineducation in the state of Mississippi, this is by far the worstI’ve seen.”

Bounds did not have any definite figures as to how much would becut, but he believed it would be drastic enough that jobs may belost.

“When 78 to 82 percent of the budget goes toward salaries,there’s nothing you can do but consolidate or eliminate personnel,”said Bounds.

Board Chairman Carl Aycock pointed out how it appeared thelegislature was appealing to a large number of people by givingteacher’s pay raises, while neglecting a smaller number of people,who will probably lose their jobs.

Bounds said he had no solutions or suggestions on how thedistrict should handle the pending cuts, but he would keep boardmembers updated on the situation.

The meeting was closed for an executive session about personnelmatters. Bounds was not available for comment on the outcome of theexecutive session.