The Gadsden City Board of Education approved a capital projects plan at Tuesday night’s meeting that outlines some needed improvements over the next few years.
The plan, presented by Maintenance Supervisor Joe Billingsley, listed 10 projects. However, Billingsley told board members just because a needed project is not on the list, that does not mean the school system cannot work on it.
Billingsley said he’s required to submit a list of 10 projects for a five-year plan. Some of the projects, including roofing work at some elementary schools, is essentially complete, he said, but cannot be removed from the list until final inspections are complete.
The largest ticket item is $3.5 million for additions at Gadsden City High School — on the plan for 2023.
Superintendent Tony Reddick said that listed project is the construction of baseball and softball fields on the Gadsden City campus.
He said he’s already heard talk about “a $3.5 million baseball complex,” and said he would not put sports over academics at any point.
However, Reddick said there are safety concerns with using the city-owned sports complex on West Meighan Boulevard. He said he understands there has been an incident of a vehicle coming off the highway into the sports complex, and it could happen again.
There also is concern, he said, about people who camp in an area past the farthest field. He said there are tents where homeless people apparently live, and there have been incidents of people coming into the sports complex during games, asking people for money.
Reddick said that’s not something the school system wants to see when visiting teams come to play.
There have been break-ins in the concession area as well, he said, and whether it is drug users or others, it’s something that should be of concern.
The original plan for the school included baseball, softball and tennis facilities on the school’s campus. Reddick said having such facilities on campus would give additional options for physical education classes as well.
The funding sources for that project, as for many others, was listed as unknown.
Other projects including roofing and HVAC work or renovations at other schools.
Board members Markus Dayton and Nancy Stewart noted a couple of schools that are not listed have serious repair and renovation needs.
Billingsley said the listed projects are not the only ones that the school system will be considering in coming years.
He said the system has to look toward the future and the possibility of consolidation of some schools. He said the system does not want to waste money making repairs at a school that might be closed in the future.