Braden money diverted to other schools

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2001

Money originally set aside to convert Braden School into an elementary school must now be used to improve other schools in the Natchez-Adams School District, Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis said.

&uot;It’s either that or look at the possibility of paying a lot of debt service or interest on it,&uot; Davis said.

The Natchez-Adams School District has about $3.8 million set aside, including $700,000 in interest in a trustmark account and $3.1 million left over from $7 million it received from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) in 1997 to upgrade its buildings, a project that has been completed.

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The Natchez-Adams School District has until the middle of June to have the rest of money obligated, or the district may have to pay a higher interest rate.

And district officials say they have many uses for the money.

&uot;The money is going to be used to do things that were considered secondary projects when the major projects were done,&uot; said school board President Kenneth Taylor.

These include such projects replacing windows, renovating bathrooms, installing elevators and other projects placed low on the list when the board first decided how it would spend the money.

The original plan to set aside money to convert Braden School – the district’s administrative office on Homochitto Street – into a kindergarten to sixth-grade school went along with a plan to also convert the district’s two upper elementary schools and primary schools into kindergarten to sixth-grade schools.

Because the Natchez-Adams School District is under a desegregation court order with the U.S. Department of Justice all changes of this type require court approval.

And for Taylor, reopening Braden School is no longer an issue.

Last year, Taylor formed a community committee to draw up another plan to reduce school size. Its plan did not include Braden School.

&uot;The committee has already decided it didn’t want Braden,&uot; Taylor said.

The committee proposed building two new fourth to sixth-grade schools. It also thinks the district should convert Frazier Primary School, West Primary School and Morgantown Elementary School into kindergarten to third-grade schools and utilize McLaurin Elementary School and Natchez Middle School for seventh and eighth-graders.

During Thursday’s regular board meeting, the board voted to advertise for bids to renovate some of the district’s bathrooms. It also reviewed a list of renovation projects to be discussed again next month, Davis said.