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School board OKs budget, WC repairs

[7/2/04]While meeting to give the final OK to a record $72 million spending plan, three school board members also gave the go-ahead Thursday for repairs to Warren Central’s rain-wrecked gym floor.

The Vicksburg Warren School District operates on a fiscal cycle that begins each July 1.

The spending plan is up about $9 million, mostly due to 8 percent raises to 616 teachers and other district personnel along with increases in health-insurance rates.

Even with the increase, trustees adopted a plan submitted by administrators that will not call for an increase in local tax rates. While the state ordered the teacher raises, funding was about $2 million short.

In preparing the budget and presenting it to the public last week, trustees affirmed they will make up the shortfall by tapping reserves and decreasing spending on noninstructional costs.

Trustees Zelmarine Murphy and Chad Barrett were absent from the noon meeting at which Superintendent James Price also gave an update on storm damage at Warren Central. A section of roof was ripped away Sunday, dumping rain on the main gym’s wooden floor.

“It’s definitely an emergency,” said Jan Daigre, board president, who took a look at the buckled floor Wednesday. “We hope to have everything back as soon as possible so we disrupt students as little as possible.”

“Our primary concern is a new roof, and the weather is a key problem with that,” said Superintendent James Price. If the weather cooperates, Price said, work will begin when a flooring contractor is decided on.

“We’re going to do our dead-level best to get us back in the gym before the students come back to school.”

Classes resume on Aug. 5, and teachers are expected to return on Aug. 2.

Mixed signals have been given by insurance adjusters. A senior insurance adjuster visited the school Thursday and determined that the floor and roof will be replaced.

That put work to remove the damaged floor on again after it had been stopped by an adjuster who wanted to try drying the floor and repairs.

“He agreed that we need a new floor, and he agreed we need a new roof,” Price said. “We’re going to send all of our engineering reports to him tomorrow, and he’ll make a decision and tell us what he’s willing to do. Then we’ll go from there.”