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Board creates facilities plan

DeWitt Era-Enterprise of DeWitt, Arkansas

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Middle school again listed

Once again, it s time, for the DeWitt School District to face the question, "What do we do about the middle school?"

The occasion was the requirement for each district to approve and submit a six-year facilities plan to the state Department of Education. At the DeWitt School Board's regular meeting last Thursday, facilities director Jeff Rader said the plan includes two new construction projects, a new roof for DeWitt High School and a new middle school.

"We're not committedto any of these plans," Rader said. However, if the district decides to go ahead with one or both, the projects must be included in the master plan in order for the district to receive state partnership money. "We don't want to miss out," Rader said.

The DeWitt School District attempted to pass a millage increase in January 2010 to build a new middle school on the old football field behind the current middle school, but it was defeated overwhelmingly. Rader said for the new plan, he was advised to "wipe the slate clean." Asa result, the district is actually going back to an old plan to build the school between the high school and elementary school, so the new school can share facilities.

Each building has a Facilities Condition Index (FCI), which indicates the building's overall condition. Rader explained that a building with an FCI of 50 percent or more needs to be replaced. DeWitt Middle School has an FCI of 32.18 percent, but that is only for the main building. Several of the older outbuildings rate much higher, such as the special services building which has an FCI of 49.22 percent. By comparison, the district's newest building, DeWitt Elementary School, has an FCI of 3.51 percent.

According to the plan, the early projected cost of a new middle school would be $4,141,780, about half what the original proposal would have cost. If the project is approved, the state would pay part of the cost, according to thedistrict's "wealth index." If the 2010 project had been approved, the state would have provided about 37 percent of the cost.

The other major project is to replace the roof at DeWitt High School. The plan estimates the total cost at $829,721. Rader explained that the current flat roof would be replaced by one with rigid, tapered insulation urn derneath a single-ply, continuous membrane. This type of roof is required, Rader explained, to qualify for state partnership money.

The Board approved a resolution supporting the facilities plan, which will now be forwarded to the state. Superintendent Gary Wayman emphasized that this plan does not commit the'district to carrying out any of these projects.

In other business, the Board voted to extend Wayman's contract for another year. It will now expire June 30, 2014. Wayman's salary of $122,500 is unchanged. Earlier this school year, all full time employees were given a $500 bonus.

The district's finances are "still on an upswing; we just need a bigger swing," Wayman said. The biggest expenditure this month was over $20,000 to repair the roof of the band room and Sheila Byers'classroom at DeWitt Middle School.

The most recent enrollment report shows 489 students at DeWitt Elementary School, 342 at DeWitt Middle School, 388 at DeWitt High School and 79 at Gillett Elementary School for a total of 1,298. This is an increase of 16 from last month.

The Board voted to expel a De-Witt Middle School student. The student has since been withdrawn from the school, and his name was not released.

The Board voted to allow the Long Time Coming Band to hold a concert March 31 in the high school cafeteria. The band is made up of DeWitt High School band alumni who raise money to support the band program.

Copyright 2012 DeWitt Era-Enterprise, DeWitt, Arkansas. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 19, 2012

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