The Marion County Tribune

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BOE meeting wrap ups

Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 1:56 pm

LACIE SILVA – Editor

The year is ending and Marion County’s Board of Education has made a number of changes and is building plans for even more to develop, structure, and secure students in the public schools.

During the capital projects discussion in the November meeting, Mr. Gillum provided a comprehensive overview of the ongoing Jasper Middle School (JMS) project, expressing confidence in the overall progress. While acknowledging challenges such as weather-related delays in dirt work, he remained optimistic about meeting the project timeline. Emphasizing the near completion of the roof installation, with metal panels currently underway, Mr. Gillum conveyed his frustration regarding the urgency of completing essential tasks, particularly dirt work, before unfavorable weather conditions ensue. In response to queries about flooring, he underscored the need to stabilize temperatures before installation and outlined ongoing efforts to address various challenges, including the temporary measures taken due to the absence of a gas line.

Mr. Gillum reaffirmed the dedication to meeting the July completion date for the new JMS building. Dr. Griffith supported Gillum and advised the board of plans for potential early occupancy in certain sections by April or May, with the goal of full relocation by August 2024, just in time for the fall semester.

The Board expressed support and asked for ways to facilitate the process and assist Mr Gillum. While acknowledging frustrations, Mr. Gillum expressed confidence in issue resolution, highlighting continuous communication during the OAC meetings. As the project advances, the Board maintains its commitment to ensuring the successful and timely completion of the new school. Anticipated discussions in upcoming OAC meetings will address ongoing concerns and refine the project timeline.

Surrounding the December meeting focusing on capital projects, the board discussed new updates and debated the prioritization of tasks.

Plans are in motion for the renovation of the South Pittsburg High School (SPHS) Theater auditorium, a project years in the making. The proposal includes asbestos removal, extensive tile work, and an upgrade of seating. The comprehensive renovation, totaling $680,000, covers everything, promising a complete overhaul of the auditorium. The auditorium renovation underscores the board’s broader vision to enhance school facilities. Driven by reserve funds, the school district has already seen substantial upgrades, including HVAC improvements in Marion County High School (MCHS) and SPHS.

The school’s current sound system, acquired around 2000, is ill-suited for productions, and for a recent event, spent $5,000 to rent suitable lighting. With an expenditure of $28,000, they managed to procure curtains, conduct wiring upgrades, and laboriously paint part of the system. The county supplied the paint, and additional painting is planned for the upcoming summer. The renovation project is tentatively scheduled to commence during spring break.

The board engaged in discussions regarding the prioritization of the sound system and auditorium renovations. There was a divergence of opinions, with some members emphasizing the urgency of prioritizing safety aspects. Concerns were raised about the current security vulnerabilities in all three schools, prompting a call for immediate attention to safety. Plans for entrance renovations at SPHS were mentioned but had been delayed, and a consensus emerged to expedite these safety-focused projects. The board recognized the need for swift action to enhance security entrances at various schools, underscoring the paramount importance of student safety.

Dr. Griffith advised the board, he is awaiting a comprehensive audit of all eight schools, seeking external expertise for a thorough understanding of facility needs. Discussions also revolved around plans for security upgrades at SPHS and MCHS. Looking ahead, there’s contemplation of a board retreat in February to formulate a strategic five-year plan, aligning projects with budgetary considerations. The community and board are enthusiastic about the ongoing projects, anticipating the transformation of Marion County Schools into modern and secure facilities for the students. Stay tuned for forthcoming updates as the renovations progress.

The Marion Tribune – December 28, 2023