The Dollarway School District Board of Directors approved the 2012 facilities master plan at a special called meeting Monday night.

The Dollarway School District Board of Directors approved the 2012 facilities master plan at a special called meeting Monday night.

A central feature of the plan over the next five years is the renovation of the Dollarway High School gym, with design work expected to start by early February and construction planned to begin by June 2013 with an expected completion date of March 2014.

The initial estimate for the renovation of the high school gym is $1.8 million, but district superintendent Bettye Dunn-Wright cautioned that a more exact figure will not be available until the project has been finalized.

“We won’t have a better idea on construction costs until after we have had discussions with the architects and builders,” Dunn-Wright said to the board.

District parent Isadore Daniels commented that the gymnasium at the old Altheimer High School, where Altheimer-Martin Elementary is now located, is in better shape than the facility at Dollarway High School.

This prompted board member Cathy Hunt to ask why games were not played at the Altheimer facility instead of at Dollarway High School.

“If the gym is better in Altheimer why don’t we schedule the majority of the games there?” Hunt asked.”I have heard that visiting teams don’t use the dressing facilities at our gym and some change in their buses.”

Dunn-Wright said that the schedule for the 2011-2012 academic year had already been finalized by the time she became superintendent.

Board member Robert Morehead said that it would be an appropriate show of support to Altheimer to schedule at least some games at that facility.

“It would be nice to play four or five games over there regardless of the condition of our gym here,” Morehead said. “We should acknowledge that they are a part of our community. Two years ago we made a statement as a board that we had allowed our facility here to deteriorate. I am thrilled to death to see the district’s plans for renovating the facility.”

The board took no further action related to scheduling basketball games at the Altheimer gym.

The facility master plan also included the new technology building at Dollarway High School scheduled for completion in April, as well as recently completed projects at Matthews Elementary and Townsend Park Elementary Schools.

“The Dollarway School District must balance the schools’ facility needs with the financial resources available,” Dunn-Wright said. “The decline in student enrollment has created losses of over $500,000 a year in our operational funds. Major building system projects must be planned and timed as not to put an undue burden on the district, creating a situation of fiscal distress.”

The master plan includes the renovation of the high school’s roof in 2015 and renovations to the school’s heating and cooling systems in 2016, with projected costs of $350,000 and $250,000 respectively.

In other business the board approved the purchase of exercise equipment for Altheimer-Martin Elementary at $4,733.78 and for Townsend Park Elementary at $2,347.78, using Arkansas Medicaid Administrative Claiming funds.

“These funds can only be spent for health and wellness-related items,” Dunn-Wright said to the board. “I recommend that the board allow the purchase of this exercise equipment using the ARMAC funds.”

After a two-hour and 17 minute executive session the board approved the hiring of five district employees to serve in an afterschool math and literacy program at Dollarway High School as part of the School Improvement Grant received by the school in December.

The employees are Lakesha Foote, Lois Morrow, Brandon Murphy, Tresha James and Booker Mays.