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School board nixes extra funds for auditorium renovation

by Danny Wade

Humboldt School Board members finally came to a consensus on funding the remainder of the auditorium project. With only four board members attending Thursday night’s board meeting (Leon McNeal did not attend), three of the four members voted to finish the project at the least amount possible.

The overall renovation project had a price tag well over $4 million with the majority going to improvements at Stigall Primary School. Work at Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School was also part of the plan. The final phase of the project was to renovate the auditorium at the old junior high school with $1 million designated from the budget.

Previous board members, Lee Williams, Phillip Hardee, Terry Johnson, Chuck Samples and McNeal approved the project that definitely made a difference at the two school buildings. But the $1 million for renovating the auditorium was not enough to cover the bare necessities of the renovation project, partially due to installing a sprinkler system and other pertinent items.

Thursday night, school board members were given three options of funding.

Option 1 would complete the base bid already approved by the previous board and was under contract. This option came in at just under $14,000.

Option 2 included Option 1 plus an additional $18,600 for temporary security window coverings for the balance of the building.

Option 3 included Options 1 and 2, and added $200,000 for audio, video, lighting, curtains and acoustics.

None of the options included padded seating as had been discussed at previous meetings.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place but we have to take action,” chairman Johnson told the board.

“How can it be used without audio/visual, curtains, lighting?” board member Lori Coleman said. “We can’t have plays or concerts without it.”

Coleman and board member Valeria Smith-Wedley were both concerned about unforeseen problems of the project that could spring up at any time with such an old building. There had been a water issue that will need to be remedied that wasn’t expected.

Coleman asked where the $200,000 figures for Option 3 came from.

Superintendent, Dr. Versie Hamlett, said they had received estimates and used the highest one for budget reasons. She noted those items would have to be bid and could come in lower.

Greer Lashlee of Lashlee-Rich Construction attended the meeting to answer question from the board. He was asked about the temporary security windows, how they would be replaced and where on the building are they located.

Lashlee said the ones on the front of the building would be replaced with glass but the back side, where most of the repair would be, would be covered up. He also noted that much of the window repairs would take place on the part of the building that has been projected to be torn down in a later project.

“If we go with Option 1, would the auditorium be secure—the front and back?” board member Wayne McLemore asked Lashlee.
Lashlee said it would be secure.

McLemore then motioned to approve Option 1 and see if the community or businesses would help pick up the slack of the additional costs of the other two options. Smith-Wedley seconded the motion that passed with a 3-1 vote. Coleman casted the nay vote and later said she was opposed to putting any money into the project.

In other board action:

•The board approved bids on Erate funding for upgrading the schools’ wireless systems.

CTE Director Wayne Sheehan submitted three bids. One bid did not meet specs. Sheehan explained the two options on the bid packages. One bid was the base system needed. A second option added an additional line to create separate access points to better cover the building.

The board opted for the additional line and the bid from Central Technologies at a cost of $81,650. With Erate covering 85-percent of the costs the school would be responsible for approximately $13,000 of the wireless upgrade project.

•Chairman Johnson appointed McLemore to serve on the budget committee. One of the duties of the board chairman is to appoint a board member to be on the committee along with the chairman and school superintendent.

McLemore has experience with budgeting from his days working for the school system.

•The board approved using Tennessee School Boards Association’s superintendent evaluation instrument again this year. According to board policy, the superintendent is to be evaluated annually.

Each board member will receive the evaluation form to be filled out and sent to TSBA, who will tabulate the results and send back to the school.

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