Officials: Roof, security, WiFi concerns at Morgantown School

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, May 9, 2017


NATCHEZ — In updating the Morgantown campus, Natchez-Adams School District leaders say they are most concerned with roofing, climate control systems, lighting, technology and security upgrades.

Adams County voters will decide on May 23 if the school district will receive voter approval for a $35 million bond issue to build or renovate the district’s existing schools. If a 60-percent yes vote is achieved, the Morgantown Middle School campus may become one of the district’s three elementary schools.

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Should the school board decide to upgrade Morgantown, the school would receive approximately $2 million in renovations. The campus has a capacity for approximately 900 students.

Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said security is a concern at Morgantown.

“Morgantown is also an open campus with multiple access points,” she said. “We have to have a facility where visitors to the campus are granted access to the interior building by employees at the campus.  The proposed renovations would provide a secured perimeter around the campus.”

Morgantown students and teachers have not been able to connect to WiFi this year.

“We have iPads and laptops that we cannot use because of this insufficient infrastructure,” McDonald said. “We are looking to address this concern this summer with an estimated cost of more than $100,000.”

McDonald said classrooms would be redesigned for group learning, restrooms and water fountains would become compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and concerns about mold in the school library would be addressed.

No heating or cooling systems were built into the gym, and that would be addressed, McDonald said. The school could also receive a new HVAC system.

Morgantown was built in in 1959 and Frazier Elementary, which could be closed as a school and repurposed, was built in 1964. McDonald said neither of the campuses has received major renovations to the classrooms.

Frazier’s biggest concern is security in that the classrooms open to the outside, McDonald said.

“The layout of the campus makes it difficult for employees to control who comes onto the campus,” McDonald said. “Additionally, our elementary students are constantly transitioning in the weather. Although there are covered sidewalks, when there is blowing rain or low temperatures, our students are having to transition in those weather conditions.”

The cafeteria is not air-conditioned and last summer the district had to use emergency funds to address a campus-wide air conditioning system problem before the school started. Frazier also has many problems, including needing more space for classrooms and a roof in need of replacement, McDonald said.

“Because of an estimated (renovation) cost of more than $9 million, we believe that repurposing that campus for use (as something other than a school) would be in the best interest of our community,” McDonald said. “Some of the functions that we are researching as using it to foster partnerships as an early learning collaboration center, business incubator, providing career technical classes and using the auditorium as a community center.”