Fate of old schools now the focus

The former Jackson Elementary School building in Pauls Valley.

To tear down or not to tear down – that’s the question for a Pauls Valley group as it considers what to do with two iconic but now empty school buildings.

All five members of the Pauls Valley Board of Education are now starting to crunch the numbers when it comes to the fate of the local Jefferson and Jackson schools.

Both were replaced earlier this year with the opening of the new Pauls Valley Elementary School housing prekindergarten through the third grade.

Now the board is going forward with two options – appraising the value of both properties as they stand today, along with the possible costs to demolish the two school buildings constructed in 1940.

“Those buildings are big. That’s a lot of material,” Superintendent Mike Martin said about the now vacant schools.

“It’s building, foundation, everything, a clean slate,” he said about the total cost to demolish the two coming in around $240,000. “It will have to say that on the specs.”

David Assad, the board’s new president and someone with decades of experience in construction, said he believes any accepted demolition bids would include insurance bonding, which would provide some protection for the school district.

On the other side is the value of the properties as they are now. With that in mind the board, during a regular meeting on May 12, approved spending around $11,000 to have both properties appraised, which is expected to be completed in a couple of months.

“We won’t be doing our due diligence if we tear them down and not know what their values are,” Assad said.

Although unrelated Martin is asking the board to consider the costs of remodeling a small portion of Lee Elementary as larger numbers of students starting with the next school year looks to make classroom space tight at the school.

The area in question is next to the school’s cafeteria and has been used for band members to practice.

Martin says the possible remodel is “just an idea” even though the school itself could potentially be replaced by a newer facility in a few years.

Right now the cost to remodel the space into three classrooms is around $85,000.

“If we’re thinking about five to seven years a move out of the building why spend this money to remodel it and then to demolish it later,” asked board member Katie Johnson.

The superintendent agrees that is something to consider up front before any decision is made.

He says an alternative might be portable classrooms at Lee, but those costs could be as much or more than a remodel.

As for the tight space at Lee, Martin said the idea of moving fourth-graders out to the new elementary school isn't really feasible right now since there looks to be five classes for that grade level when the next school year arrives in August.

Another factor for the school housing fourth through sixth grade is a current problem with Lee’s roof, which now is being checked out for some reports of leaks and water damages in some classrooms.

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