MPS explores innovative proposal to revamp secondary school facilities | News
MONTGOMERY, ALA – A bold proposal designed to bring innovative and dramatic improvements to Montgomery Public School Secondary facilities was presented to the board of education Thursday by Superintendent Barbara W. Thompson. These changes could have a tremendous positive impact on the learning environment for five additional schools beyond the existing plans for improvements at two others.
Superintendent Thompson described how funding for these important advances can be primarily provided by a consolidation of several Central Office sites. This move will improve system efficiency, accountability and communication. It is an idea that was suggested in two separate studies by an expert in school facilities and planning.
“Dr. Bill DeJong suggested in two MPS facilities studies that consolidating our central administrative services will not only help improve our efficiency, it will save taxpayers money,” said Superintendent Thompson. “The money we save can have a very positive impact on several schools.”
Superintendent Thompson is proposing five of the 14 Central Office campuses be consolidated and that surplus property be sold. The offices proposed to be consolidated are the Central Administrative Office, the Annex, Bellinger Hill, Fair West, and the Professional Services Center. Other campuses will remain intact at this point due to their specialized needs; for example the bus lot and the operations/maintenance facilities.
Projected savings for the consolidation of these offices are over $1 million annually. Superintendent Thompson says those funds can be used improve the learning environment for thousands of students.
“We can leverage those funds to finance a number of exciting improvements in several schools,” said Superintendent Thompson. “If the board agrees, we can begin having a positive impact this fall.”
A new proposed wing at Carver High School would allow students from Lanier High School to transition into the recently opened school in the fall of 2014. Carver may also begin a new pilot flexible scheduling program this fall. This innovative approach would allow juniors and seniors to voluntarily attend classes beginning at mid-day that would allow for work, internships, dual enrollment, and with Alabama Department of Education approval, accelerated graduation.
The proposal for Lanier High School mirrors the DeJong report recommendation to create a 6-12 arts magnet. Renovations could begin this summer. Booker T. Washington Magnet High School would move to the campus in the fall of 2014. Baldwin Middle School could join them in the fall of 2015.
Funding for these projects could be realized with a $28 million bond issuance. That would include $7.6 million for the new Carver wing, $10.6 million for the Lanier renovation, $5 million in unallocated funds that could be used for other projects, and a refinancing of $5.5 million that would save the system over $500,000 in interest fees. An additional $3.9 million is already available that will be spent on the auditorium renovation at Lanier.
The superintendent also discussed options for the Loveless (LAMP) program. Both traditional and non-traditional housing for the program are possible, including building an additional wing at the new Park Crossing High School, pending funding availability.
Two other projects are on tap for the coming months. The completion of the new space for MTEC in the old Parisians building, the system’s new career technical high school is on pace for completion for the fall of 2014. An additional $3 million in funding for equipment purchases is possible through expected funding for state career technical programs. Jefferson Davis High School is also slated for improvements to the school’s lighting and heating/air conditioning systems along with parking and access enhancements. That renovation will be funded through state maintenance funds.
Superintendent Thompson feels these projects will have the greatest impact on students given the amount of funding that is available.
“One new elementary school would cost over $20 million dollars – a new high school, twice that,” she added. “Using these funds in this way will have a game-changing positive impact on thousands of students and multiple schools. We are very excited about the possibilities.”
Information Source: MPS