On first day of classes, construction at 2 schools

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thursday’s start of a new academic year will be a bit bumpier than usual for the Vicksburg Warren School District — at least at Warrenton Elementary where a summer project, including paving, will still be under way.

Interim Superintendent Donald Oakes said the work includes preparation for an additional building that will include 10 classrooms when completed in mid-January. Monday, a base layer of asphalt was poured in the driveway and parking area. During winter break in December, the areas will receive a top coat and be paved and completed.

For the first few days of school, Oakes said police will be on campus to direct traffic and help arrival and departure to and from school.

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“The situation is not ideal, but we are making the best of it that we can,” he said.

Even though intercession weeks are not part of this year’s school calendar, classes for an expected 9,000 students in the district’s 10 elementary schools, two intermediate, two junior high, two high schools and one alternative school are starting about the same time. Buses will be rolling on 170 routes at dawn.

Intercessions were remediation periods held after each nine-week period to help students who needed to catch up. They were scrapped largely due to lack of participation, but the early start date was retained so the first semester can be completed before winter break.

At Warrenton, Dr. Janice Hatcher, principal, said faculty will park on the grounds to provide more space as school starts. She also prepared maps she gave to parents during orientation that direct them on how to drop off and pick up their students from the new parking and driving area.

“I realize it’s going to be new to the parents and everyone, but we’ve got everything we need to make sure that it’s not too difficult,” Hatcher said.

At Vicksburg Junior High School, an addition is also under way. However, Oakes said that adding 10 classrooms at VJHS will not interfere with traffic or classes.

The VJHS construction is being done by Flagstar of Brandon for $1,558,258. Warrenton’s construction was contracted to Dixon Interior Finishing Inc. of Jackson for $1,502,769. An interest-free bond of $3 million was secured by the district to pay for the work. Both projects mean portable classrooms or trailers long used at both schools will be scrapped.

All other area schools start classes Monday except Riverside Christian Academy. Classes there start Tuesday.

Oakes, a former superintendent, is managing operations of the countywide public school district pending the arrival of Dr. Elizabeth Swinford, who has been tapped by trustees for the job and will be moving here from Baton Rouge.