School board ponders future of old building

Published 6:00 am Friday, December 17, 2004

The future of a historic school building in Brookhaven could beleft to the oversight of city officials or a nonprofit organizationlooking to preserve the building, Brookhaven School Board memberssaid Thursday night.

Board attorney Bob Allen updated members on the status of theAlexander Teen Center, located near Alexander Junior High’splayground area.

“The significance is that this teen center is one of the actualfirst Alexander buildings, and everyone wants to preserve it,” saidAllen. “We don’t have any use for it for the school.”

He explained that the school district could not invest any moneyinto the building unless it is being used for educationalpurposes.

If it is declared surplus property, it can be used by the cityor recreation department as well as be restored by those entitiesor possibly by nonprofit groups interested in its preservation,Allen said.

Board members agreed they might declare the building surplusproperty instead of leasing it so it could be included in arestoration project.

“My understanding is that the city plans to do somebeautification in that area,” said Superintendent Lea Barrett. “Wedon’t want to be the ones to hold up progress.”

The former teen center has been vacant since it was determinedat least $60,000 was needed for repairs and to replace theair-conditioning unit about two years ago, district officialssaid.

About a year ago, city officials and recreation departmentofficials inquired about spending money to restore the building.The idea fell short because the city did not have any ownership orlease on the building.

Recently, the Alexander Teen Center was put back on the prioritylist when individuals wanted to see it preserved, Allen said.

“I think there are some groups in the community that are willingto step forward to see that something gets done,” he said.

District officials said they plan to talk further with city andrecreation department officials about the building’s future.

Other matters of discussion included the upcoming school boardelection for one of the two trustees in the separate schooldistrict.

In other school board news:

* An election for the position now held by board chairman Dr.Prentiss Smith will be held from noon until 5 p.m. March 5 atBrookhaven High School.

Smith asked Allen if the proposed annexation, which would expandthe city limits, would affect the election. Allen did not believeit would, unless the Supreme Court was to have a ruling before thedate of the election, which Allen said was unlikely.

* Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer, executive director of the MississippiSchool of the Arts, updated the board on the progress of theschool.

“We are pleased that we made it through half a school year onthe budget. We are still in the red,” she said.

Bodenhamer noted that the proposed budget for next year will notbe as much as MSA officials requested but will be more than thecurrent school year.

* Barrett announced that the Brookhaven School District will beinvolved in the Coalition for Children and Public Education’spetition drive for legislators to fully fund the MississippiAdequate Education Program.

Events will held throughout the state beginning Jan. 4 andending with a rally at the capitol. Barrett said Lucy Shell iscoordinating efforts for involvement from Brookhaven parents,students and teachers.

Barrett announced that a parade is being planned by the Chamberof Commerce for Jan. 6 to honor Brookhaven High School after thefootball team captured the state championship title earlier thismonth.

She said the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors also recentlyapproved a resolution to acknowledge and congratulate BHS athleticsfor obtaining two state championships, baseball and football, inone calendar year.