Natchez-Adams School District board hears proposal from architectural firm

Published 12:29 am Thursday, November 3, 2016


NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District heard from an architectural firm Wednedsay that has designed several schools in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Superintendent Fred Butcher said in executive session M3A Architecture of Jackson met to discuss with the school board the district’s buildings at a specially called meeting.

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In Jackson, M3A designed Blackburn Middle School and Henry J. Kirksey Middle School. Both are two-story schools designed for 650 students.

The company also designed the Union Parish (La.) Middle and High School, designed for 1,200 students, and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, designed for 600 students, in Monroe, La.

Butcher said earlier Wednesday the district would not be making a decision quickly, but would simply hear a proposal.

The NASD Board of Trustees verbally committed to building a new high school in August providing funding could be obtained. The board has also toured different, newly constructed school facilities.

The projected cost of a new high school is $42 million, but representatives with the board’s consulting firm, Volker, Inc., have stated some costs could be trimmed from that estimate.

Butcher has said he would like to see the district build a new high school in the beanfield next door to the current school. Following completion of the new school, the next option would be to renovate Natchez High School.

The renovated campus option plus a new high school would allow the district to move the middle school to the current high school facility, close down Frazier Elementary School, and use the Morgantown campus as an elementary school.

The cost to build a new school and renovate the existing Natchez High School would cost more than $60 million, estimates indicate.The board hired Tony Gaylor of the Chambers & Gaylor Law Firm of Jackson as a financial consultant. Gaylor, originally from Natchez, is tasked with coming up with a proposal on how much funding can be acquired.

Representatives with Volkert presented in August the district could generate approximately $19 million over a number of years through leveeing 3 mills and leveraging revenues from 16th section land interest. School districts can levee up to 3 mills for construction projects without voter approval.

Two of the district’s financial bonds will also be retired in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Should the public elect to pass a referendum to renew the bonds, Volkert consultants say it is possible to build a new high school without any new taxes.

In other news, the district elected to seek bids on a fingerprint time clock system.

NASD Business Manager Monica Anderson said state law allows the district to purchase items up to $50,000 without seeking bids, but she said the technology is diverse and the district would like to find the system that best meets its needs through the bidding process.

Anderson said estimates indicate the system will cost between $36,000 and $48,000. The cost would include 20 computers, fingerprinting machines and software.

For maintenance, Anderson said one company has a flat monthly upkeep cost of $1,200 and others charge by user.

The district’s time card system is archaic, Anderson said, tying up employees in the business office with much paperwork and not offering a digital system to show who is at work on the fly.

“If we get the new time system, it would clear up a lot of problems,” Anderson said. “Accuracy in time and who has time off, those problems would disappear.”

Superintendent Fred Butcher said the funding is within the district’s budget and he said the added efficiencies are worth the cost. Butcher said he hopes to have the system in place following Thanksgiving break.