Leader Blues

Monday, April 30, 2007

TOP STORY >>Students will attend high school campus

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Beginning this fall, all Cabot Junior High North students, seventh- through ninth-grade, will attend the north end of the Cabot High School campus.

At least that is what the Cabot School Board’s Building and Grounds Committee will recommend to the entire board at the May board meeting.

The building and grounds committee, comprised of Brooks Nash (committee chair) and members Alan Turnbo and Fred Campbell, reached this conclusion during a committee meeting Thursday.

“I appreciate all the hard work that was done by the group that put together the plan leaving the kids (seventh-graders) at Middle School North, but I think what is best for the kids is to move forward with putting them all, seventh through ninth grade, at the north half of the high school campus,” Turnbo said, making the motion to the committee. Campbell seconded the motion and it was passed with unanimous approval to recommend to the school board at the next meeting.

The ninth graders will attend classes at the end of the north wing of the high school building, which is closest to the current JHN principal’s complex. The seventh and eighth graders will attend classes in K, S, the old high school media center and 15 portable classrooms.

“There were lots of emotions both ways, but as long as we know the goal is to go back to two junior high schools, we should try to keep the kids together as much as we can,”

Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent, said, adding the students will be able to get from the portable classrooms to solid structures very quickly.

CJHN principal Georgia Chastain has wanted all of her students to be at the high school campus since the committee met earlier this month and heard Cabot Middle School South principal Renee Calhoun’s plan. Chastain said then that she wanted her students to have one unified area to call their school and cited many benefits of having them all together at the high school campus.

“They would be in more permanent structures, have a team of seven administrators to watch out for them, have science labs, and a consistent structure and curriculum like junior high south,” Chastain said. She added there would also be no classroom time lost in the shuffle between campuses, no more limits on student services and a variety of food options at the high school cafeteria.

The 30 portable buildings that make up “the village” of junior high north will be removed; 15 will go across the street to the high school. The four old portables currently at the high school will be replaced and five newer ones will go in their place; 10 more will be added on the other side of the media center.

That is a total of 30 classrooms in the double portable buildings; one building holds two classrooms. There will be no bathrooms in the portable classrooms; students will use the bathrooms in K and S buildings. “We will do our best to keep all the students safe, no matter what grade,” Dr. Tony Thurman, CHS principal, said. “We’re going to be looking at ways to accommodate the concerns of parents at having their children here over the summer, and do anything we can do to alleviate concerns until they get here,” Thurman said.

Although the district will cut the amount of portables in use by half, the amount saved in monthly rent won’t be significant. They currently pay $40,000 a month for the 30 portables. “The rent on 15 portables we keep will be a little less a month than what we currently pay, and the contract amount as a total would be less,” Dalton said.

Six months will also be added to the contract, but the district will not face a penalty in letting the double portables go back to Williams Scotsman, Inc., the company supplying the buildings. The district also has one multiplex building, a five-section building of eight rooms that is used as a bank of restrooms; it alone costs the district $10,000 a month in rent.

“We have referred two schools and a university to them, so we’ve already covered the buildings for them that we’re getting out of here and he’s aware of it,” Dalton said. “I think he’ll make every effort to get the multiplex out of here as soon as possible,” he added. The cost to move the multiplex is $58,000, Dalton said, which includes the company tearing it down, hauling it back, and storing it on their site.

Junior High North students have been separated between the village and the high school campus since the Aug. 10 fire that destroyed the eight-year-old, $9 million CJHN. The district reached a settlement with insurance carrier Great American Insurance Company of Ohio in February for $12,069,000 to help rebuild the school. The state Facilities Division agreed earlier this month to pay up to $5.2 million to help rebuild.