Sixteen new classrooms are on the horizon for New Brockton schools.
“Increased enrollment” is the reason Coffee County Schools Superintendent Kevin Killingsworth cited for plans to build 10 classrooms at New Brockton Elementary School and six classrooms at New Brockton High School.
At the meeting Aug. 1, the Coffee County Board of Education unanimously approved the system’s Capital Five Year Plan that lists the new construction in New Brockton as the top two priorities.
“Right now, we are using seven portable modular classrooms at New Brockton Elementary School,” Killingsworth told the board. Also include in the estimated $2,400,000 project at the elementary school is construction of new boys and girls restrooms.
Six classrooms, boys and girls’ restrooms and an administrative office are in the $1,867,000 plans for New Brockton High School, Killingsworth said. “I am proposing that we make all the additional classrooms tornado shelters.”
Making the school tornado-safe could add up to $200,000 to each of the projects, Killingsworth told the board. “But I think that is very important for the safety and security of our employees and students going forward in future years. We’re at the point where we can do that.”
Priority No. 3 in the capital plan is construction of a new gym and new pitching and hitting facilities at Zion Chapel High School for an estimated cost of $3,350,000. “This priority has been here for quite some time,” Killingsworth said. “For different reasons it has been moved back.”
Killingsworth said that the current gym at Zion Chapel does not meet the Alabama High School Athletic Association requirements for a 2A classification school. “Also, we cannot seat even half our student enrollment in the bleachers for any type of activities,” he said. “I would propose to you, as the superintendent, to seek out bonds to do these projects all at the same time.”
A priority from last year that is being carried over to the current plan as Priority No. 4 is to continue to upgrade security at all the schools for an estimated cost of $275,000, Killingsworth said. “Last year we bid that and the bid came back really high so the board voted not to accept that bid offer. This project has not been completed because the bid was so high.”
Killingsworth said that grant funds have been received in the last school year to upgrade security at New Brockton Elementary School because of the modular classrooms used due to enrollment increase. “We hope that by the end of the first semester, all of the elementary schools in the county will have security doors and swipe cards to get in.”
Construction of a new lunchroom and converting the old lunchroom into two new elementary classrooms and a storage room at Kinston School comprise Priority No. 5 for an estimated cost of $2 million, Killingsworth said. “Every day at lunch we have to open up one roll up door and close another to house all the students at lunch at Kinston.
“They use part of the gym lobby as the lunchroom every day,” he added. “The new lunchroom will be a storm shelter to house all students and employees on that campus.”
Replacing the roofs on the Agriculture-Science Building at Zion Chapel and Kinston High School are Priority No. 6 for an estimated cost of $95,000, Killingsworth told the board.
Priority No. 7 is to renovate and add dressing rooms in the New Brockton High School gym, which was built in the 1960s, at an estimated cost of $485,000.
Construction of pitching and hitting facilities at Kinston School for an estimated cost of $250,000 is Priority No. 8, Killingsworth said.
Replacing the existing bus shop is Priority No. 9 at an estimated cost of $950,000 and upgrading the playgrounds at each of the county elementary schools for an estimated cost of $125,000 is Priority No. 10.
Forty-six new employees have been hired by the Coffee County School system since December 2018. “Our system is growing, therefore, we had a need for new personnel,” Killingsworth said, thanking the board members for their support. “We’ll go forward working together to make sure we are doing the best for the students of Coffee County Schools. We have a good plan and we’ll execute that plan to the best of our abilities.”
CCBOE President Brian McLeod noted that interest rates have dropped dramatically. “I think it is a good time for us to at least start to explore the opportunity to do a bond issue for some of these bigger projects and get them moving off the list.”
The next meeting of the Coffee County Board of Education is Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the central office in Elba. The meeting is open to the public.