"Our students can now come in and work on their assignments into the evening and not impact the rest of the school," said Principal Jon Frye. "We are really enjoying the updates to our facility."
City School Superintendent Neel Durbin told a library full of Kiwanis Club members, city school board members and teachers, both current and retired that the school system has explored the possibility of renovating the high school or building a new one at a different location. He says the estimates for a new school came back at approximately $42 million and that did not include the purchase of new land and the demolition of the current school. With a structurally sound building, the school system decided to renovate the high school at its current campus.
"We have a 12-year, $12 million plan that will take us into the future," continued Durbin. "Most people will think this renovation was done because it looks good, but really it was done for safety and ADA compliance."
Durbin recounted the five-part plan for the school, two parts of which have already been completed. The first part was the replacement of the boiler and chiller in the school's basement. After servicing the school for 40 years, it was time for new HVAC units and thanks to the timely announcement of a $500,000 loan from the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative, the school was able to replace the units earlier this year. According to Durbin, the loan includes zero percent interest for 10 years and the cost savings generated by the new units will more than pay for the loan.
Those in attendance on Wednesday were sitting at the heart of the second part of renovations. However, this phase of improvements also included the replacement of all the windows in the high school, expanded parking at the front of the school and a newly designed east entrance for enhanced security purposes.
The remaining three phases include renovations to the school's chemistry lab, stadium and gymnasium and building a barn for the FFA program. Durbin says he would like to move the current chemistry lab from the second floor down to the first floor so that in the event an accident occurs students could safely exit the building. Also in a cost-saving maneuver, Durbin says that the stadium will be converted to turf, which will save on maintenance and will make the field safer. He noted that the change could increase the number of events held at the stadium from 25 to 100.
Durbin commented that he is continuing with his plans to complete these improvements without a taxpayer increase, noting that recent increases were a necessity of the economic times, but he thought the renovations could be completed within the school system's yearly budget. He also noted that he believes that Dyersburg is a growing community and he wants to support that growth and not take away from it. He told the audience that businesses like Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-a, Lowe's and Big LOTS! do not come to communities they believe are dying.
|*||Gold Zone - $5,000 and up donation|
|*||Black Zone - $1,000 to $4,999 donation|
|*||Trojan Zone - $200 donation for 8-by-8 brick|
|*||Trojan Zone- $100 donation for 4-by-6 brick|
"Dyersburg can become a destination community, not an exit community," said Durbin. "We would like to look at this as an investment in the youth and this region."
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