"We are closing down Union and putting grades K-12 at Doyline," said W.W. "Butch" Williams, Webster Parish School Board Superintendent. "We are going to try and get school started this year at Doyline, during the construction period."
The school grounds were previously Doyline High School but will house grades K-12 after the WPSB amended a plan proposed by the central office.
The proposed plan would have saved approximately $630,000 annually by consolidating Doyline High School into Lakeside Jr/Sr High School and creating Pre-K through eighth grades at the Doyline High School location while closing Union Elementary.
The board amended the plan to create a K-12 school at the Doyline High School location and close Union, resulting in a loss of savings.
"We are going to move three buildings from the Stewart site and also purchase seven temporary buildings," Williams said. "Those 10 buildings will house all our needs to keep the school running next year."
After receiving quotes for the project, two bids were presented to the board – one for the price of six portable buildings to be purchased from Portable Shelters Inc in Oak Grove for $184,734, including installation.
However, one more building is needed and the cost will be added to the bid. A second bid of $25,206 from Hanson Movers of Springhill will be paid to move the three temporary buildings currently at Stewart Elementary to Doyline.
"Originally, we thought 6 temporary buildings would need to be purchased, costing $184,734; however, an additional building is needed, so the price will go up," Williams said.
According to Williams, a declaration of emergency is needed to execute the plan to be ready by the beginning of the school year, otherwise the buildings could not be installed until October.
"We have talked to our lawyers in Baton Rouge," Williams said. "They say this does qualify as a state of emergency.
"It is not something we do often, but we felt like we needed to do so in order to get this going," he continued. "That way the kids have a place to go to school when August arrives."
Through a roll-call vote, every board member present voted in favor of declaring a state of emergency.
At a previous board meeting, Business and Finance director Crevonne Odom, requested the board approve paying qualifying employees through grant money that is only available for one year, rather than pay the salaries from the general fund.
According to Odom, this measure will save approximately $1.7 million for the year the grant can be used but the salaries will be subtracted from the general fund once the grant expires.
The grant, along with teacher retirements and other measures taken by central office staff put the board in a better financial position for the upcoming school year, despite the savings lost by creating a K-12 school complex in Doyline.