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Special called meeting held

The Charlotte County School Board recently held a special called meeting to discuss and present proposed PPEA construction plans for Bacon District and Phenix Elementary Schools.

“…both schools are getting a gym and Phenix is getting eight classrooms with handicap accessible bathrooms in each room. The rest of the details are being ironed out …” said Superintendent of Charlotte County Schools Dr. Nancy Leonard.

Bacon/Saxe District School Board Member JonPaul Berkley said during a previous meeting, incorporating four classrooms at Phenix Elementary was discussed opposed to the eight classrooms previously discussed numerous times.

The School Board also met during an Aug. 21 special called meeting.

“That was all new to us,” he said. “We’ve sold it to the board of supervisors as eight classrooms, that’s all we’d ever seen is eight classrooms. It was a big shock to walk-in and here we are four classrooms instead of eight classrooms.”

“I guess my communication process broke down …” said Jamerson Lewis Constructions’ CEO Phillip Jamerson during the meeting.

He said the engineering and mechanical does not change and the plans can go back and the pre-engineer build for both schools has been ordered and will be delivered soon.

“I owe the school board two apologies,” said Jamerson.

He said during the last meeting, he did not realize the format of the meeting. “I truly thought it was a working session …,” he said.

“The second thing I’m going to apologize for … typically in a PPEA … you submit it and you go through a detail phase and in that detail phase you engage more people …”

Jamerson said a meeting was held at Phenix Elementary April 24.

“At that meeting, and it was my fault, because I guess I overstepped myself because I work for the school board,” said Jamerson. “But, at that meeting, I charged our team and I had a drawing of all the mobile classrooms and I said ‘what we need to do today is accommodate everything in these mobile classrooms in this new addition or somewhere in the building.’”

He said after looking at the floor plan of the existing building, including the room shapes and sizes along with the needs, he thought those spaces would have to be accommodated in the new building.

“That’s the direction we went …” said Jamerson. “So I am glad to go back to the eight classrooms …”

However, he said some thought would have to be given on how to accommodate the special education rooms and the library.

“Those are the ones that were the challenges for us …” Jamerson said.

He said when the mobile units are taken away, those spaces would need to be accommodated.

Jamerson said the building has grown by about a couple of thousand feet.

“At no time did the price or my budget for the PPEA increase,” he said. “My cost increased, that’s on me.”

He said it would not take anything to go back to the original design.

“That is what my recommendation would be because of the classroom space …” said Leonard.

He said there would be eight classrooms, which were originally included in the initial design, instead of four classrooms.

Leonard said Phenix Elementary is heavy with enrollment in pre-K and kindergarten.

“We have had Phenix children want to go to pre-K … and attend Phenix school, but having to go elsewhere because of lack of space,” she said. “So, meeting space is not going to displace children, but if we don’t have instructional spaces then we won’t have space for our Phenix children to attend Phenix School, which is something that we will have to address meeting space…” Leonard said.

She said if a partition wall is needed to be built in a classroom to make a meeting space, it would be done, however it is not the priority.

“We tried to be very bare-bones so that we could keep the children at Phenix,” Leonard said.

During the meeting, a working committee was appointed consisting of School Board Chairman Larry Fannon, Aspen/Phenix School Board Member Robert Johnson and Berkley.

“We went over blueprints, but felt we needed another meeting to discuss some changes to them,” said Red Oak/ Wylliesburg District School Board Member Teresa Dunaway following the Aug. 21 special called meeting.

She said the Board also voted to approve the PPEA construction plan at Bacon District and Phenix Elementary at that time, however, further discussion on changes would occur at the Sept. 5 special called meeting.

Previously in June, the proposal included a fixed price identified at $3.2 to include the addition of a 6,000 square foot multipurpose facility at both Bacon District and Phenix Schools and the addition of eight classrooms at Phenix, which would replace mobile classroom units.

Leonard said the focus was on security and accessibility, at which the entire team met at the two schools to do a walk through.

“The scope of parameters of what we were looking for was what we could do to improve accessibility and security of our schools that would go beyond the $3.2 million but reach a $6 million cap,” she said at that time.

Of the identified upgrades, above the $3.2 million scope, Leonard previously said Bacon District could use additional heating, handicap accessible restrooms and fencing in addition to upgrades in the main office, including moving it to the front and adding a security wall.

She discussed a security wall for both Phenix and Bacon District.

At Phenix, above the $3.2 million scope, Leonard previously said upgrades could include additional faculty parking, separating parent drop off from the bus drop off, additional sight lighting, renovating the administration area and updated circuitry.

Both schools could see kitchen area upgrades, painting, the addition of stage ramps and bus canopies.