Schools prepare for new academic year

Published 12:16 am Monday, July 26, 2010

VIDALIA — As the beginning of the academic school year approaches, area school districts are making last-minute preparations to have the school facilities ready to receive students.

In Concordia Parish, the work includes both large and small projects.

At Ferriday Upper Elementary, workers are lowering ceilings with lights in the halls and classrooms. The ceilings in Vidalia High School’s halls are also being lowered.

Likewise, both FUE and VHS are getting new slanted roofs.

“When we lower the ceilings and replace the lights, it makes the building so much brighter, and the lighting in the classrooms provides better light for the children to see, that is one of the things in previous administrations they had hoped to do with all the schools,” Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said.

In both previous and the current administration, those projects were limited by money, and Blankenstein said the ceiling lowering projects were paired with roofing projects.

The new, slanted steel roofs being installed at FUE and VHS are being put in place because roof repairs on flat roofs are a losing battle.

“With a flat roof, as you repair one part of it, the water moves on to the other part,” Supervisor of Transportation and Maintenance James McGee said.

“We have already put those kinds of roofs on many of our other schools. It has cut the problem with leaks almost out at those schools.”

At Ferriday High School and FUE, repairs to the school district-owned roads there are also being completed, and McGee said the school district filled in several holes in the ground at Concordia Education Center that were large enough to hold water and cause mosquito problems.

Other ongoing projects include the installation of new alarm systems at VHS and Vidalia Upper Elementary, new smoke detectors at Vidalia Lower Elementary and at VHS and repairs to the press box and concession stand at VHS.

All of the schools are being painted and receiving other general maintenance, and other projects were completed earlier this summer, McGee said.

“We do things every day all summer long,” he said.

In the Natchez-Adams County School District, Morgantown Elementary Principal Fred Marsalis said the school would have a science lab with all new furniture and equipment.

“We are very excited about this and we think the students will be excited, too,” he said.

Most school administrators or other representatives in the NASD said that the work being done at their schools was limited to routine maintenance and painting.

But that doesn’t mean students won’t notice changes when they arrive on their first day back, McLaurin Elementary Assistant Principal Daisy West said.

“In the front, some planting has been done and I think it is very pretty, very colorful,” she said. “I think they will enjoy seeing a bright little facelift.”