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The new Grady Education Center on Market Street N.E. will likely not be ready to open when the new school term begins later this year, Grady County school superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard reported to the board of education Tuesday night.
A projected six to eight week backorder for materials needed for the project will push the opening of the new facility into later in the year. The building, formerly Mobley’s Furniture & Appliances, was purchased earlier this year for the new Grady Education Center.
“The delay doesn’t hurt us since the current Grady Ed Center building is available. My hope had been to start the new year in the new building but it will be difficult for that to happen if we have to wait six to eight weeks to get going,” Dr. Gilliard said.
The existing Grady Ed. Center is located in a mobile unit on the south side of the Cairo High School campus, next door to the C.H.S. gymnasium.
Board member John White voiced his concerns about other facility projects and the volatility of pricing for building materials and its impact on the school system’s budget for projects.
Finance officer Dan Broome said that materials for the major construction at Eastside Elementary School and the ongoing project at Whigham Elementary School had already been ordered and were being delivered.
“Those two projects should be fine and we have a firm price on the new bathrooms at the Cairo High School football stadium,” Broome said.
Broome said that the Grady Ed. Center was the only project that had not yet been bid out.
Board Chairman Derrick Majors noted that it was a much smaller project in comparison.
Dr. Gilliard also reported that Broome and maintenance director Dave Mitchell had met with the contractor and architect this week and that both Eastside and Whigham schools are on schedule.
Board member Teresa Gee Hardy requested that a priority be placed on covered walkways at Washington Middle School and Northside Elementary School. Dr. Gilliard said that coverings were being planned at both schools as well as at Southside once the renovation of the cafeteria gets underway.
Dr. Gilliard also updated the board on a meeting he held last week with athletic director Tom Fallaw and Cairo High School head baseball coach Chad Parkerson.
Coach Parkerson told Dr. Gilliard that spending $400,000 on new lighting for the baseball and softball complex would not be a top priority. According to Dr. Gilliard, Parkerson has an overall wish list and has it prioritized if resources require a phased approach. The superintendent says the coach would like to see the baseball and softball fields combined and artificial turf installed.
Lastly, the superintendent told the board in the coming weeks he would be discussing with them a plan to utilize COVID relief funds to purchase much-needed playground equipment at the elementary schools. The superintendent also asked the board to be thinking of available dates to begin budget talks for the 2021-2022 operating budget.