School board tours county facilities

Published 7:43 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Students and faculty are parking their cars all over creation atLincoln County schools, but classrooms are up-to-date and free ofleaks after a long process of facility repairs and upgradescountywide.

The Lincoln County School Board took its annual tour of the fourschools in the district Tuesday, inspecting the grounds with eachschool’s principal to keep apprised of the physical conditions ofeach institution. While parking availability remains a concern ateach location and a couple of gymnasiums are nearing the ends oftheir useful lifespans, a mixture of new buildings, renovations andongoing repairs have kept each campus modern.

“We’re constantly improving each campus,” said SuperintendentTerry Brister. “I felt like, after I took office seven years ago,we were behind in terms of facilities, and that’s what we’vefocused on. It’s a slow process, but we’ve seen improvement.”

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Parking is the most pressing issue at each school – a muchbetter problem to deal with than leaking and deterioratingbuildings, Brister said. He said each school has outgrown theparking spaces allotted, which were never really adequate to beginwith. Parking is particularly askew at Enterprise AttendanceCenter, where faculty and students park at different corners of thecampus.

“We’ve just never had parking, and as we grow and get ourfacilities up to grade, we need more parking,” Brister said.

As far as buildings are concerned, the district’s gymnasiums arein the poorest shape.

Roof repairs are needed at the West Lincoln and Enterprise gyms,and Bogue Chitto Attendance Center’s gym needs replacing entirely.Recent repairs have stopped a slew of leaks in the building’slobby, but further repairs would be a waste of money, Bristersaid.

“It’s in bad shape. I call that a money pit,” he said. “Everytime we turn around, we’re fixing and repairing something in thatold gym.”

Such projects would be large and expensive and likely still along way off, especially with massive budget cuts coming toeducation funding in Mississippi, Brister said.

Despite a few major and minor needs across the district, eachschool appears to be in good shape.

Loyd Star Attendance Center Principal Robin Case said thephysical plant at her school is in good shape and has no immediateneeds. The school’s new band hall is an ongoing project, and workis needed on the old shop now that Loyd Star’s agriculturalsciences class has been reinstituted.

“I don’t mind taking it one step at a time, as long as we’re onthe same page. We’re in better shape physically now than we’ve everbeen,” Case said.

West Lincoln Attendance Center enjoys the newest overall campusof the four county schools, with only one of the original buildingsremaining. The school’s most immediate need is for roof repairs onits junior high building, which has the only asphalt and shingleroof on campus. Plans call for its replacement with a metalroof.

“That’s the only building we’ve had that’s leaked this year,”said West Lincoln Principal Jason Case.

Bogue Chitto Attendance Center may have the oldest buildings inthe district, but improvements there have kept it in line with itscounterparts. It’s the only school that has what could beconsidered adequate parking, but its gymnasium is possibly thedistrict’s most worn out facility.

“If you would ask my staff members what part of campus needsadditional work, it’s the gym,” said Stacy Adcock, Bogue Chitto’sfirst-year principal. “The plans are in the future for a new gymand maybe some additional classroom space.”

Enterprise Attendance Center has the distinction of using boththe oldest and newest buildings in the district. Grades two throughfive are taught in the district’s newest building, built in 2008,while sixth and seventh grades are taught in a building built bythe Works Progress Administration during World War II.

But even that old building was renovated last year, and otherthan parking and an aging gymnasium, Enterprise has nocomplaints.

“We’re in good shape,” said Principal Shannon Eubanks. “We’reprobably the fastest growing school in the district. Our gym wasbuilt in the 1970s for 400 students, but we’ve got about 820students now.”