Board OKs LE flooring overhaul, new office

by Sean Dunlap

The Franklin County Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday, April 19 to formally accept a low bid and move forward with several planned improvements on the lower elementary school campus this summer.

Superintendent of Education Chris Kent said two bids were received for the entire scope of the project, which would remove all flooring from Franklin County Lower Elementary School and the pre-kindergarten building behind it as part of a highly-anticipated asbestos abatement initiative.

Additionally, Kent noted three alternate bids were sought for the relocation of the FCLE office, renovations to a campus restroom and replacing the flooring in the elementary library.

The superintendent noted federal ESSER — an acronym for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief — funds will take care of the bulk of the costs associated with the work with the district also contributing funds to make it happen.

ESSER funding was part of a Congressional relief package made available to states and local jurisdictions to assist with financial needs connected with the coronavirus pandemic.

“In looking at the prices that came in, the alternate bid related to bathroom renovations came in a lot higher than we anticipated,” Kent said.

“So, we have decided to hold off on that for right now. The upper elementary has restrooms that also need attention, so we might look at combining this work in the near future — doing bathrooms in both buildings as one project.”

The two bids submitted on the FCLE bathroom upgrade came in between $53,397 and $148,130.

To this end, Kent recommended the flooring replacement, the relocation of the FCLE office and work involving the library flooring would proceed — pending final board approval.

Rushing Construction and Contracting Inc., submitted a low bid totaling $503,200 for the improvements — $390,000 for the flooring removal; $75,600 to move the office; and $37,600 for the library floor upgrade.

The other bid, from Owen Holland and Sons LLC, came in at $576,882.

Kent said the Franklin County School District’s financial stake in the improvements would total an estimated $164,880.70, which includes the following expenses:

• Asbestos inspections —$2,400.

• Pod rentals — $11,550.

• Architectural fees —$30,192.

• Relocation of FCLE office —$75,600.

• Library flooring upgrade —$37,600.

• FCLE flooring replacement (local share) — $7,538.70.

“ESSER (round two and round three) funds will pick up the rest in addressing the asbestos flooring removal and replacement,” he went on to report.

In discussing particular aspects of the project, Kent said the office relocation would move that part of the building closer to the main entrance for the school — primarily as an added security feature.

“This would put the office where you come in the front door and we will put in a second layer of security doors that will limit access to the rest of the building beyond the office,” he added.

The superintendent added the old office would be used in the future as a conference area.

In addressing library improvements, Kent said that particular area is getting new shelving, the cost of which will be covered by existing library funds combined with some support from the district.

“The reason we’re addressing the flooring here is because it has bad spots, including broken tiles,” he continued. “It just looks bad in relation to the other improvements that are being made there and is the right thing to do.”

In regards to the asbestos flooring abatement, the board separately authorized the lease of six 40-foot storage pods from H&P Leasing Inc., needed for FCLE building contents such as furniture and furnishings that must be removed during demolition and construction phases.

The three-month lease will run from mid-May through mid-August and was also approved unanimously by the panel.

Kent reiterated that its representative — Dale Bailey Architects — made it clear to the contractors bidding on the project that expectations were for the scope of work to be substantially completed before the new school year begins in August.

In other business at the meeting, the Franklin County School Board:

• Voted 5-0 to adopt the district’s 2022-2023 salary schedule.

Kent also used the opportunity to praise lawmakers for approving more money for educational salaries, which he characterized as a needed boost both financially and morale-wise.

• Gave authority to Kent to apply for federal “Supply Chain Assistance Funds” in the amount of $32,805.18 and for the school district to take part in the annual summer food service program during June.

“The assistance funds are to help our food service operation when things are held up by shortages and supply chain issues, and there are stipulations as to what this money can be spent on,” Kent said.

“The summer feeding program is four weeks long and ties in with students taking part in summer school and our 21st Century program offerings.”

• Approved revisions to fiscal year 2022 budgets for special education and consolidated services (federal programs under Title I, II and V) based on funding through Mississippi Department of Education.

• Tremel Young, who serves as the district’s business manager, reported on the local school system’s financial status as of the end of March.

She noted the FCSD Maintenance fund balance for the reporting period was $2,445,565 with the district having received 78 percent of its anticipated revenue and has spent 63 percent of its expenses through March 31.

Additionally, in reporting on system finances, Young said FCSD Maintenance had a cash balance of $4,040,179.78.

“At this point, we have completed 75 percent of the current school year,” Young went on to say.

• Gave approval to the district’s 2022-2023 school year student handbook as presented.

• Authorized a trip to Washington, D.C., for members of Franklin County Educators Rising to take part in national competition Thursday, June 23 through Wednesday, June 29.

At the conclusion of business, the board recessed its meeting with plans to reconvene at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 26.

The next monthly business meeting for the panel will take place at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 16 in the FCSD Central Office on First Street in Meadville.