Demopolis BOE gets thorough look at capital projects

Leon Clark shows off a mural at U.S. Jones Elementary School.

Leon Clark shows off a mural at U.S. Jones Elementary School.

After a whirlwind tour of schools to see the projects completed or underway, the Capital Planning Committee of the Demopolis Board of Education met for a barbecue dinner and a presentation on how the system can save even thousands more each year.

With obvious pride, DCS Supt. Dr. Al Griffin led committee members and school supporters on a visit to all four campuses to show off how the school system has used capital funds from various sources over the past several years.

At the gymnasiums at U.S. Jones, Demopolis Middle and Demopolis High schools, Griffin pointed out the resurfaced or new floors, painting and the retrofitting of the lighting system.

The new lights alone, he said, are expected to save 50 to 60 percent in electricity costs. Since May, when the system at USJ was installed, savings have been up to $200 per month.

Andy Bernard addresses the capital plan committee about retrofitting the lights in the school system.

Andy Bernard addresses the capital plan committee about retrofitting the lights in the school system.

The tour began at the technology center, the control center for all computers in use by the school system. Technology coordinator Jeremiah Dial showed off the servers that support the computers and the new generator that keeps everything running when power goes out.

Griffin and Demopolis Middle School principal Blaine Hathcock said the energy efficient air conditioners recently installed in the gym have shown no increase in utility bills.

Those air conditioners, along with ones installed at U.S. Jones Elementary, were paid for with a grant from ADECA and matching funds from the BOE.

Griffin and Hathcock showed off new furniture in the library, an upgraded computer lab and cameras placed throughout the campus. Hathcock also took the tour to the room reserved for the Supervised Alternative Program for grades 7-12.

At USJ Griffin pointed out the newly enclosed freezer for the lunchroom. He had been superintendent three years, he said, before he realized lunchroom workers had to go outside to a separate building for items stored in the freezer.

“I thought that’s where they were storing the lawnmower,” he said.

Principal Leon Clark took the group through a room that has been converted for art classes and, if needed, a science lab, and to the library to show off a mural done by an enrichment class. Ceilings have been lowered in the classrooms and hallways, which saves on energy bills, and painting has been done throughout the buildings.

Dr. Al Griffin and Jeremiah Dial show the capital committee the technology center of DCS.

Dr. Al Griffin and Jeremiah Dial show the capital committee the technology center of DCS.

At WES, principal Tony Pittman showed off the newest computer lab, all the painting that has been done in the school, the 31 cameras throughout the campus and the new curtain in the auditorium/lunchroom. He also pointed out the phone system that helps with safety protocols.

As the bus carrying the group slowly went over the newly installed speed bumps at the high school, Griffin pointed out the resurfaced tennis courts and the ongoing project to install the geothermal heating and cooling system for the campus.

Painting has been done throughout the school, said principal Dr. Tony Speegle, and more is planned, but the most visible painting is the tiger face by Garland Farwell at the main entrance to the school building.

In addition to ADECA funds, said Griffin, some of the capital projects were made possible through the Black Warrior Telecommunication Allocation.

The capital committee looks at the changes in the Demopolis Middle School library.

The capital committee looks at the changes in the Demopolis Middle School library.

The committee voted to approve Griffin’s budget of capital funds for 2015. After payments are made on existing loans and bonds, the school system will have $202,979.36 for capital improvements.

The superintendent listed proposed projects, with the stipulation that emergencies could change the use of the funds.

As the committee and school supporters enjoyed the barbecue dinner provided by his company, Andy Bernard of Lime Green, Inc., presented an energy program which could save the Demopolis school system thousands of dollars annually simply by changing lighting.

Bernard won the bid to furnish the 83 new lights in the three gymnasiums, which already are showing savings. He said by retrofitting the 4,035 lights all at once in classrooms and hallways and the central office, the estimated savings in electricity over 15 years is $1.03 million. If schools continue using the same lighting system, it will cost the system $1.92 million.

Roger Locke, DCS maintenance supervisor, said the figures don’t reflect the savings in labor and supplies. The new lighting system, he said, would be guaranteed for 10 years.

Replacing the lights could be paid for in part by a grant from ADECA for $500,000. The remaining $279,229 would have to come from other sources.

The Garland Farwell mural at the front of the Demopolis High School

The Garland Farwell mural at the front of the Demopolis High School

Westside Elementary School principal Tony Pittman discusses capital changes at his campus.

Westside Elementary School principal Tony Pittman discusses capital changes at his campus.