HAMLET — Matt Bramstedt, project manager for the three future construction projects at Richmond Senior High School and Fairview Heights and Mineral Springs Elementary, briefed the Richmond County School Board on the projects Thursday afternoon.
All projects must be completed by September 2024 as they are subject to federal guidelines through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. ESSER funds come from the United States Department of Education through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). LS3P is the architectural firm carrying out the work for this project.
With the funds, RSHS will receive an auxiliary gymnasium as well as six classrooms. Fairview Heights will get a gymnasium, while Mineral Springs will get six additional classrooms.
During the update, Bramstedt, the K-12 Sector Leader at LS3P, said they were completing the schematic design phase.
The RSHS Auxiliary Gymnasium will be nestled between the existing gymnasium and the CTE building. There will be a new entrance and a new plaza in addition to the existing courtyard. The gymnasium will accommodate 400 spectators with bleachers on both sides. The gymnasium could be used for various sports competitions, as well as for daily RSHS activities.
In May, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Maples and members of the Superintendent’s 2021-2022 Student Advisory Council met to discuss plans and options for the 28,000 square foot Auxiliary Gymnasium.
“We were fortunate to receive feedback from students and teachers about these spaces,” Bramstedt said. “Their comments have been incorporated.”
The Fairview Heights gymnasium will be a free-standing structure with an “efficient layout.” A covered walkway will connect the gymnasium to the south side of the school. The bleachers are not intended for the gymnasium, although they can be added.
In Mineral Springs, the addition of six classrooms will be along the north side of the school, adjacent to the playground. Construction of the building will not interfere with students’ ability to get to the playground.
“The design of this particular project is to create that continuity throughout the building,” Bramstedt said.
Board member Daryl Mason expressed concern that the new RSHS classrooms will have windows facing the gymnasium. He said it could be a distraction for students. Bramstedt said windows could be removed or blinds put up.
“We are doing very well in terms of the schedule,” Bramstedt said. “We are excited to move forward.”
Finance office Tina Edmonds said there was a decrease of $201,846 for instructional services and an increase of $418,165 for system-wide support services, both funded by the state.
For federal funds, there was a decrease of $309,755 for educational services, a decrease of $11,035 for system-wide support services, an increase of $131,291 for ancillary services and an increase of $215,297 for fund transfers.
President Wiley Mabe pointed out that they are operating on a continuation budget as the state budget has yet to be approved. He asked if there was any news on transportation funding. Edmonds did not respond to any of which she was aware at the time.
“We know how much it cost last year, we all know what the diesel did,” Mabe said after a chat with the sporting director. “It’s a constant concern.”
Maples and Watkins leave their positions
Superintendent Maples and Dr. Amber Watkins, Director of Exceptional Children, will no longer hold their positions effective July 31.
“It has been the highlight of my education career to serve this district as superintendent, and I have been truly blessed to work with such dedicated teachers, support staff, administrators and board members. “, Maples wrote in a June letter. “I am inspired every day as I visit schools and classrooms to witness firsthand the exceptional work you do for the children of Richmond County.”
He worked for 34 years in public education in Lee, Moore and Richmond counties. Maples added that he still wants to be involved in the school system after his retirement.
Watkins worked 17 years in public education as a teacher, coach and administrator, with the last five years of her career in Richmond County.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of Richmond County,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be inclusive in supporting people with disabilities.”
Watkins will spend more time with her children, but added that she will continue to be an advocate and a resource for members of the community.
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