School furniture, supplies on the move

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 24, 2012

NATCHEZ — What’s normally a time for routine maintenance at schools in the Natchez-Adams County School District involves a bit more moving of things around this year as the district orchestrates a summer-long dash to reorganize from grade-based to neighborhood schools.

“We are working methodically, in a very systematic way, to make sure everything is in place in time for the start of school,” NASD Director of Operations Larnell Ford said.

The NASD Board of Trustees voted earlier this year to reorganize the school district. That reorganization will result in three residentially-zoned schools for kindergarten through fifth grades at West Primary, Frazier Primary and McLaurin Elementary and a middle school at Morgantown Elementary School for the sixth through eighth grades.

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Natchez High School will remain as a central high school, but will have a separate ninth-grade academy with its own principal at the campus.

Robert Lewis Middle School will not be used during the 2012-2013 school year, but it will be renovated to serve as a science and technology magnet school for grades seven through 12 or grades nine through 12 for the 2013-2014 school year.

The decision to reorganize was made before the end of the school year, and Ford said by the end of the year teachers were told to strip their classrooms down to the bare walls.

“Prior to the close of the school year, we issued memos out to the teachers that they would need to make sure to take everything down out of their rooms, everything off their walls, pack their books that need to be moved out, and we will take them to a central location in their buildings — usually the library — and have them labeled,” Ford said.

“We are prioritizing those who are being moved and doing a quick estimate of what needs to be moved based on the principals at those facilities.”

The school district has a time frame set for when each school’s resources will be shuffled, Ford said, but between 65 and 70 percent of the furniture in the school is adjustable.

“We are looking at the number of chairs that we have based on the number of students who are going to be in a classroom,” he said.

“When we know what kind of student is going to be in there, if it’s a third-grade classroom they will adjust the chairs to third-grade size.”

For the pieces of furniture and equipment that the district has to move, Ford said the maintenance crews that are moving things around have to follow very strict inventory guidelines because federal and state funding audits require that everything be accounted for.

“We make sure we inventory everything that is in the building, and those (things) that have to be moved are being coordinated with our clerk,” he said.

Right now, the priority move is the transfer of equipment between RLMS and Morgantown and the renovations that need to be completed there, Ford said.

“We are putting more emphasis on (Morgantown) because everything there basically has to be totally rearranged and adjusted for the sizes of the students that are going to be there this coming August,” he said.

The planning for the move involved meetings with everyone from the school district’s central administration down to building-level employees.

“We all got together and pre-planned how we would make this work, and we had to involve everybody who had a part, a role to play,” Ford said.

“Principals were also a part of this team. The principals made sure the teachers understood what we were trying to accomplish; even the custodians were brought in to make sure they knew what we were trying to do.”

The school board voted in the spring to delay the start of school until Aug. 20 to accommodate the changes.