BAY — While COVID-19 is at the forefront of most preparedness plans for school districts, Bay School District is also planning for the future.
Superintendent Luke Lovins said the district has a particular goal in mind for the future.
“For Bay, our goal is to make sure we are prepared for growth,” Lovins said. “Prior to the pandemic, we had seen growth, and we were about to run out of classroom space.”
Lovins said the school district is currently having those key conversations to determine how many additional classrooms are needed and what areas would best be suited to utilize the space.
“We started the preliminary conversations to see what they need,” Lovins said. “Whether that be labs, occupational therapy or physical therapy.”
Principal Jodi Cobb said the high school has several areas where additional space could be utilized.
“It would be nice if the district had that space,” she said. “We have a nice musical complex for the music teacher, but the art teacher has a small classroom and small storage space. ... It would be nice to have a bigger space for her, that would be centrally located and a bigger space for her students to have individual spaces.”
Cobb said the high school science department could also use an extra science classroom. Currently, a science teacher is using the lab as a classroom, she said.
Lovins said at some point as plans begin to take shape, the district will employ a construction manager to assist with developing the new additions. The district has recently completed some much-needed HVAC upgrades to the elementary school also, he said.
Lovins said the school now sees about a $2,500 decrease in utility bills because of the upgrade.
“The teachers say the air runs less, but the room stays cooler,” he said. “Our share for the (HVAC project) was about 34 percent. The wealth index has gone down, so we can expect to pay 29 percent. ... We hope to get approved for partnership funding.”
The school has also made adjustments that are pandemic-related. Lovins said communal devices such as water fountains and high school microwaves have been temporarily shut down.
“We did small projects like installing hand sanitizer stations, and we put purple dots on the floor in the elementary so students know where to walk and how far to stay apart,” he said. “All students have individual water bottles at their desks.”
An upgrade is planned at the high school, as well as a new roof, he said.
Cobb said the projects are “long overdue.” She said there have been puddles of water accumulating on the roof during inclement weather.
“My roof is the old rock type – polyurethane. It’s been the same roof since the building was built,” she said.
Lovins said as the school prepares for the future, he encourages developers to look at Bay as a potential building location.
“I think we are a place primed for growth,” he said. “We are a great community with great people – just 10 minutes from Jonesboro and one hour from Memphis. Tell them to build houses in Bay and we would buy them.”
Cobb commended Lovins on his accomplishments in his first year as district superintendent.
“He has done a great job making sure everything is budgeted,” she said. “He has done a great job talking about buildings and including administration in those discussions.”