School system looking to upgrade equipment

By THOMAS P. WEAVER, HORIZON Editor

CELINA-School board members were presented with plans to replace the current telephone system at Clay County High School and an outdated one at Celina K-8 here at the February board meeting, and they also approved a motion to request bids for other future building updates.

Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative representative Kevin Collins was invited by schools director Donnie Cherry to come speak to the board about the proposed phone upgrades because he wanted them to be aware of the plans even though “no board approval was needed” for the projects since the cost of each was under $10,000.

Collins said the cooperative “cuts school systems a pretty good deal” with both buildings’ pricing being significantly lower than normal quotes and Cherry explained “safe schools grants would pay half” of the total.

Cherry said the work at the high school would be completed “during spring break” and the replacement of the grade school’s system would occur “over the summer.”

The board also approved a motion to request bids for retro-fit lights, heating/ventilating/air conditioning (HVAC) units, and a new walk-in cooler for Celina K-8 after much discussion between maintenance director Jerry Strong and board members.

“We have $23,000 in grant money that can be used for energy saving projects,” Strong said.  “It will cover the retro-fit lighting, therefore there will be no budget problem there.

“The school system will have to pay for it initially, but the grant will cover it.”

When board members inquired about the cost of the new cooler project, school nutritionist Laura McLerran said “it would be under $20,000” with the funds coming from the “school nutrition budget.”

Strong explained there were 45 HVAC units at Celina K-8 that need replacing and he said one had been changed out.

“Our goal would be to change them all if we could,” he said, “but we are just requesting permission to be able to start replacing some of the units.”

Board member Bill Donaldson said he hears “the most complaints about how hot the gym is.”

Strong said the gym was not included in the 45, and that it would be a “separate” project.

“The problem with the gym is there’s not enough air exchange,” he said, “and we don’t yet know what it will cost to replace that system.

“We have looked at maybe going with two large heat pumps to heat and cool the gym.”

More discussion followed before Strong wrapped up saying “all we’re asking at this time is for permission to request bids,” eluding to the fact the topic could be debated at another time before a final decision would be made.

Other action and discussion at the meeting included:

• the approval of a request to “consider junior high softball games to be held at Hermitage Springs Friday, March 19 at 12:30 p.m. and at Celina K-8 Friday, April 9 at 12:30 p.m.” between the two schools during school hours,

• the approval of two trip requests where the CCHS Senior Beta Club will travel to Opryland Hotel in April and the CCHS girls softball team will travel to Clarksville for a tournament this month,

• the approval of a “memorandum of understanding” with Macon and Overton Counties “to enter into a mutual aid agreement to assist one another with any resources available in our school districts during times of emergency,”

• the approval of a motion to “continue insurance coverage with Tennessee Risk Management as they have in previous years,”

• director Cherry reporting the system had used 11 snow days as of the meeting date (February 11) with two staff development days remaining that could be converted to snow days if needed–both of which have now been used with the last snow event,

• principal reports from the heads of each school in the system, and,

• before the meeting adjourned, Cherry gave his director’s report–which included discussion about proposed cuts in state education funding that he said “will be funded if the legislature will go along with Governor Bredesen’s plans” to use money from the state’s “rainy day” fund; a “Race to the Top” update explaining, if Tennessee was chosen, Clay County could receive up to $96,500 per year over a four-year period; and much discussion about the possibility of CCHS offering advanced placement (AP) classes in the future.