Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
Money, or lack of it, was the big issue at the Board of Education’s Joint Facilities Review Board Meeting this week. The water seepage at Macon Middle School (MMS) was front and center of the debate. Commissioner Ronnie Beale stated that he would like to see the 122 windows at MMS replaced before the beginning of the new school year, first and foremost. Principal Scot Maslin, noted that due to the water seepage the carpets have become moldy and mildewed possibly causing health issues for those exposed. Beale noted that safety for students and staff was a priority. He also spoke to the fact that Raleigh recommended getting away from carpet due to allergies, going with a new vinyl flooring.
Macon Middle School’s estimated total for all repairs, including new construction for a free standing athletic building is $14,026,673. Some projects can afford to wait, but as School Board Member Fred Goldstein, said, “interest rates are at an all time low.” The School Board Liaison Committee were given the go-ahead to find out about obtaining a loan, possibly even deferring payments for six months to a year. An RFQ (request for quotation) also needs to be obtained from companies vying for the contract. Aside from the windows, MMS needs a new roof, an upgraded HVAC system, a kitchen upgrade, and the track resurfaced. The media center still uses mercury vapor lamps which are being phased out nationwide and some fluorescent lamps are also still in use.
The dressing room was also discussed and as Goldstein noted, “students are getting dressed in their cars due to lack of space.” Dressing rooms must be shared by boys, girls and visiting teams. It takes some time to take turns getting everyone in and out, especially during track meets. There are no showers in the locker rooms and there is no Bluetooth. Many of MMS issues have to do with bringing it up to today’s standards and codes. As Maslin pointed out, “when the hot water is used in the restrooms, steam comes up from the commodes.”
There was also talk about expanding the track at the middle school since the track at the high school is not up to regulation. It is not wide or long enough and to bring it up to regulations, the bleachers would have to be moved. State regionals cannot be held there with the track the way it is now. The problem with drainage at Franklin High School (FHS) continues to be a problem with heavy rains turning the track field into a lake. The ongoing issue is whether to invest in repairing everything or make accommodations to have sports held at MMS. If the track at MMS was to be repaired and used by the high school, parking would then be a problem. Upwards of 100 cars are routinely parked at an event wherever a spot can be found. There is, however, enough land behind the track to expand parking to accommodate large sporting events.
“If we had a complex similar to that of Parker Meadows we could alleviate the parking problem,” said Macon County Commissioner Gary Shields. Several School Board members agreed but the issue is where to find a property to build it. Ideally, the facility would need four locker rooms, four showers, and two restrooms. These issues will be up for discussion at the next School Board Liaison Committee Meeting later this week.