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After much delay, it appears that Cairo High School students will be able to move into the newly renovated Grady County Vocational Center building during the first week of April, when school reopens after spring break.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard briefed members of the board of education on the project Tuesday night.
An additional vapor barrier for the floors of the renovated facility increased the cost of the project, but Dr. Gilliard said that barring any unforeseen issues, the project will come in at the contracted price of $4.1 million.
The complete renovation of the facility began April 2, 2018, and the targeted completion date had been mid-December 2018. Weather related issues and delays in finishing the floors pushed the project into 2019.
This is the first major renovation of the facility since it opened in the mid-1970s and comes on the heels of the opening of the new College and Career Center on the southern end of the CHS campus.
Some modifications to the Vocational Center were made when a CHS renovation project took place in 1996. According to Cairo High School College and Career Center CEO Todd Gainous, one section of the vocational building was converted from an appliance and electronics training lab to a family and consumer sciences suite during the 1996 project. Up until the current renovation work began, the area was being used for Food Sciences and Early Childhood Education classes.
Other labs that were in the original vocational center included a drafting lab, which had been relocated to part of the newly renovated high school in 1996. This area had been used as a second Health Care Science classroom prior to the current renovation. The vocational center housed another Health Care Science classroom and lab until the new College and Career Center (CCC) opened. At the beginning of school in 2017, both Health Care Science classrooms and the lab were relocated to the CCC. A very small classroom in the old vocational center was the home of the CHS Forestry and Wildlife classroom. The outdoors area of the campus serves as the lab for this pathway. The vocational center has also been home to the Automotive lab, the Welding lab and a Construction lab.
The “new” vocational center will continue to house both the Welding and Automotive labs. Both of these labs are increasing in size by about 50 percent. The old construction lab space has been split between these two labs to allow for dedicated classroom space in each lab as well as additional lab space.
The old family and consumer sciences suite is being converted to a Culinary Arts suite, including a commercial kitchen as well as classroom space and storage space.
The original drafting lab and a small classroom adjoining it are being converted to a multi-use agriculture lab and will be utilized by the Agriculture teachers for Wildlife and Forestry as well as Horticulture and Animal Science.
The old healthcare space is being converted to a new Early Childhood Education suite that allows for almost triple the space the instructor now has to use. This lab will give the high school students a simulated elementary classroom as their lab space to practice their skills before going to elementary schools in the school system to work as interns.
One additional external feature of the newly renovated vocational center will be the addition of a large covered outdoor space that will serve both the Automotive and Welding labs. This area will be able to be secured behind a chain link fence and will give these two labs outdoor space that will be invaluable as these programs continue to train welders and mechanics. This “lean-to” will be on the side of the building that faces the Williams Field House.
“This building is now equipped with the best equipment within 200 miles of Cairo. The Culinary Arts suite, in particular, is second to none in this region and possibly the state. We wanted it to be the best learning environment possible for our students,” Dr. Gilliard said.
In other business Tuesday night, the board:
‰Heard an update on a proposed plan to modernize and expand the cafeteria at Northside Elementary School. After meeting with architect Greg Smith of JW Buckley & Associates Monday, Dr. Gilliard said it would cost as much or less to construct a new facility as it would to expand and modernize the existing cafeteria. If a new cafeteria is to be built, it would be located west of the media center. Board member John White suggested the current facility could be utilized as an auditorium for the school. Dr. Gilliard said additional discussions and planning would take place before he brought forward a recommendation for improvements at Northside. Also under consideration is a gymnasium similar to those at the other elementary schools.
‰Unanimously approved the Decatur-Grady Radio System Intergovernmental Agreement.
‰Accepted the low bid of Blough Tech for additional servers. Two will be purchased at a cost of $17,886 and two others for $10,266. Three other vendors submitted higher bids.
‰Approved payment of accounts payable totaling $708,949.04 on the recommendation of Dr. Gilliard and Dan Broome, finance director for the school system.
‰Unanimously approved the recommendation of the superintendent for 2019-2020 certified personnel positions and reappointments of the current principals and administrative and support staff for the 2019-2020 school year. Only the Whigham principalship remains vacant due to the retirement of Mark Willis.
‰Accepted the resignations of Kala Hilton – school food service assistant, Wanda Davis – school food service assistant, Kimberly Council – teacher at Washington Middle School, Caroline Harvey – teacher at Eastside Elementary School, Danielle Thomason – teacher at Eastside; and Belinda Wilson – special ed parapro at Whigham Elementary School.
‰Approved the retirement of the following personnel: Dorothy Adams – parapro at Eastside, Wayne Bolley – bus driver, Lisa Turner Daniels – teacher at Whigham, Mona Hancock – speech/language pathologist, Ann Harrell – school secretary/registrar at Whigham, and Anetta Bowen – parapro at Whigham.
‰Approved the termination of Amber Smith – special ed parapro at Washington.