From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE –An aggressive capital improvement plan by the Jefferson County Board of Education received the green light from the federal courts on Friday. The impact on the local area includes a new elementary school in the Grayson Valley area and major renovations for Rudd Middle School and Pinson Valley High School.
“Federal Judge Madeline Haikala has approved a request from the Jefferson County Board of Education for a $230 million dollar building program,” JEFCOED spokesperson Whitlee Lusk said in an email.
The BOE plans a Tuesday news conference to discuss the plans, Lusk said.
In September of 2017, the Jefferson County Board of Educatio released its plans for a $230 million capital outlay plan expected to extend into the next three years. The plan outlines the addition of seven new schools and the renovation of nine current schools in the district.
Lusk said the funding for the building project was made possible when voters approved a property tax renewal with an overwhelming 92% vote.
“The capital outlay plan will eliminate the use of seventy-five (75) portable classrooms and replace the older, worn-out elementary schools in the district,” Dr. Craig Pouncey said in 2017.
The plan addresses the many safety concerns of those schools built before 1970 which currently affects over 10,000 students.
Phase I includes construction of a new elementary school in the Grayson Valley area. Dr. Pouncey reasons that this additional school, noted as the Eastern Area School, will allow JefCoEd to eliminate the 12-year-old interim Pinson school zone.
“We currently have two elementary schools in this area including Chalkville and Clay. With this proposed addition, we are discussing the idea of a “Choice Option” with a thematic focus regardless of where the student resides,” Dr. Pouncey adds.
The superintendent provided three choices currently under consideration: traditional, arts and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). This addition will also address the serious over-crowding in these fast-growing areas of the county.
In addition, Phase I proposes school additions and renovations, including the demolition and remodeling of Erwin Middle School’s (formally Erwin High School) buildings and athletic field as well as Center Point High School and Pinson Valley High School’s athletic fields, and the renovation of Rudd Middle School.
Rudd Middle School in particular will a subject of extensive renovations. Problems at Rudd Middle School have prompted citizens to voice concerns over the school’s structure, including places where mold is present, limited bathrooms in an overcrowded school, as well as electrical issues among others.
In addressing the Pinson City Council in February, BOE member Ronnie Dixon said that among the improvements to Rudd will be a new electrical system, new air conditioning in the gym along with chillers to eliminate molding throughout the building and repairs to the roof.
The package displaying architectural renderings showed seven slides. The first slide depicted the new softball field at Pinson Valley High School that will amount to $2 million. The second was an aerial view of Rudd with proposed additions and removals of certain aspects of the building, such as canopies. The third showed a exterior shot of Rudd with a new portico for school buses to park under as they pick up or drop off students.
The fourth slide was of areas to enclose at Rudd and turn into classrooms, as well as the addition of 10 new bathroom stalls and 20 new fixtures. The fifth was new common stairs after areas are enclosed at Rudd. The sixth was infilled floor ares, new restrooms and science labs. Finally, the seventh was a plan for a new media center to be build beneath the school.