Blackville looks for answers to improvements in schools

The Blackville-Hilda school board held an information meeting Jan. 29 to discuss a facility improvement plan and explore ways to fund it.

The proposed plan would cost approximately $500,000 and focus on roof and floor repairs and renovations in the district's schools as well as the district office.

District superintendent Teresa Pope presented a plan to the board that would give them time to look at it before a voting at the Feb. 8 school board meeting.

She noted leaks in the district's roofs have caused widespread damage and the district "desperately needs" urgent infrastructure repair.

"If it continues to leak and we don't get it fixed - it is just going to get worse," said school board member Evelyn Coker.

Board members expressed concern over safety issues with buckets being used to catch leaks and possible mold contamination.

The proposed improvements include some of the following:
• new roofs for Macedonia Elementary School, Blackville Hilda High School and the district office;
• new carpets, tile and overall renovations on various floor sections in Macedonia Elementary School, Blackville Hilda High School, the district office and the field house;
• a new canopy for Macedonia Elementary School.

Donna Abbott, the head of finance for the district, said the district could refinance an outstanding 1999 general obligation bond to cover costs.

It would require a millage increase of nine mills from debt service millage which is currently 54 mills - a figure set by the county based on the district's past debt, Abbott said.

Debt service millage is used to payback debt, she said.

The millage increase doesn't require voter approval and it annually equals $36 on a $100,000 house for nine years, said Abbott.

Board member Steven McCormack mentioned that unexpected changes in material costs could drive up the price of the renovations.

"If it goes over $500,000 -we will cut the lowest priority items," said Pope.

At a Jan. 12 school board meeting, Blackville-Hilda High School student council members told the board how much they appreciate the recently repainted walls and lockers around the school.
They also noted how clean and safe the school was and how after school academic programs have helped improve student performance.
The board also gave a superintendent evaluation of Pope rated "excellent."