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Decade of construction ending at high school

Almost 10 years of construction at the Cabot High School campus could be coming to an end, Cabot School District board of directors heard during their March 12 meeting. After renovation of one more building and paving of graveled areas, all that will remain is finishing touches, Superintendent Tony Thurman said.

Superintendent Tony Thurman and board members Corey Williams, Mark Russell, Donna Nash, Brian Evans, Ricky Hill, Dean Martin and Wendel Msall attended the meeting.

Thurman remarked on the high school campus following a report by deputy superintendent Harold Jeffcoat on building and grounds actions.

The heavy construction at the ninth grade academy is on schedule, Jeffcoat said. More foundations are set to be poured, and work on the central building is going well, he said.

The contract for resurfacing the high school track has been awarded to Fisher Tracks for $240,000, he said.

The company is highly recommended through work done for Fayetteville and Russellville school districts, two Springdale school and West Memphis, Jeffcoat said. “We called and checked, and they were all very satisfied,” he said.

Thurman pointed out that the work would begin during the school year with the arrival of fair weather. “There are going to be a lot [walkers] who are very disappointed … sometimes there are a hundred people out walking that track when it is nice out,” he said.

Walkers who use the track are going to be displaced for four to five weeks, Thurman said.

When the track re-opens, there needs to be attention to ensuring damaging equipment is kept off, Thurman said. “We have got to be vigilant,” he said.

Lawn chairs, strollers and other wheeled items cannot be used on the track, Thurman said.

However, the track would remain open for community fitness use, unlike many other school districts where the tracks are closed off, Thurman said.

Jeffcoat said plans for the expansion of the cafeteria at Ward Central Elementary School have been completed. “I think that this is going to be a huge improvement for Ward Central,” he said.

The driveway work is expected to be finished before the start of the new school year. But the expansion of the cafeteria, itself, is expected to take six months, Jeffcoat said.

Students will be separated from the construction area by a plywood wall so work would continue during regular school hours, he said.

Thurman reported that renovation of “S” building at the high school is awaiting legislative action. Partnership funds from the state Department of Education would come available after the budget is approved by the legislature, probably sometime in April, he said. The actual work on the building would likely begin in fall.

The building is currently used by the agriculture department, which would need to be relocated before work begins, Thurman said. “It will be quite a challenge to figure out where they will be housed,” he remarked.

Two portable buildings already owned by the district at other campuses could be moved onto the high school campus for the agriculture classes, Thurman said. The two buildings would house four classrooms, which would be sufficient, he said.

“There would not be places for the chickens and rabbits and all those kinds of things,” which would be placed off-site with students being bused to the animals’ location, Thurman said. “But we can make it work,” he said.

Completing the renovation of “S” building would mean the end is near for construction on the high school campus, Thurman said. Once the renovation projects are completed, one of the final projects would to pave the graveled areas on the campus.

“We are really close to being done on the campus,” Thurman said. The paving and other finishing touches such as painting buildings to blend with the rest of the campus are all that remain to be done, he said.

Traffic issues at Junior High School South need to be studied, Thurman said. “It is tough around there,” he remarked.

Also, “We need to re-think how we bring students onto the high school campus,” Thurman said. Traffic engineers who studied the campus recommend creating an entry at Polk Street, perhaps a traffic circle, and closing the current entry into the parking lot, he said.

The traffic plans are complicated by the Freshman Academy, which will need another entryway on Polk Street, Thurman said. Possible solutions include a four-way-stop intersection, or another roundabout, he said.

According to Gifted and Talented program director Aaron Randolph, Cabot High School hosted the regional Quiz Bowl Tournament on March 9. The high school team took a come-from-behind win, and now will be going to the April 6, state 7A Quiz Bowl tournament at Batesville.

On Feb. 12, there were 40 parents at the parent identification meeting. More than 40 families were represented, about triple the usual number, Randolph said. “We are really getting the parents involved,” he said.

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