Officials detail proposed changes to McLaurin Elementary School

Published 1:15 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017


NATCHEZ — Still boasting a solid structure, McLaurin Elementary School’s renovation options under consideration for voter approval later this month include security, upgrading classrooms and removing the mobile classrooms.

Adams County voters will decide May 23 if the Natchez-Adams School District will receive voter approval for a $35 million bond issue to build or renovate the district’s existing schools. If 60 percent of voters approve the referendum, the McLaurin campus may become one of the district’s three elementary schools.

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The school board would have final approval on the options selected, and McLaurin’s estimated renovation cost is approximately $845,000.

“Although an old facility, McLaurin has a solid structure,” Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said. “The improvements at this campus will ensure that all classrooms are located in the interior and the building that will have secured access. Additionally, all portions of the building will be accessible to students and employees with physical disabilities.”

The district plans to secure the perimeter of the building as needed with ornamental fencing, and the entrance would be secured so someone entering the facility would not have immediate access to the classrooms. McDonald said lighting would also be added to the exterior.

“We have dedicated employees who arrive to work early in the morning, to provide after-school tutorials, work with colleagues on curriculum and instruction and host after-school activities for students,” she said. “We want to have safety features that ensure that they are as secure as possible when on campus.”

The district utilizes two mobile classrooms at McLaurin, with several others on site. The school’s choir is one program located in a mobile classroom.

“The district will determine the future use of those modular buildings based on school needs and a final assessments of the condition of the units by our architect,” McDonald said. “There are some concerns about the condition of some of the modulars at McLaurin.  Several are not used because of concerns about termites, mold and mildew.”

The plans call for some of the mobile classrooms to be destroyed or relocated to make room for 50 additional parking spaces. Restroom upgrades and additions are also planned.

McLaurin Elementary would retain its name after the renovation, McDonald said. The building currently houses 650 students, but McDonald said sending the fifth-grade students to the middle school campus would allow the campus some flexibility.

McLaurin is the oldest building in the district still used for classroom instruction. It was constructed in 1953. McDonald said the school never has received any major renovations.

“The last projects at the campus were the placement of modular buildings to accommodate student capacity and expand early childhood learning areas,” she said.