FLORENCE – Lauderdale County Superintendent of Education Jon Hatton said a lot of work has been going on this summer throughout the school system to get things ready for the start of school.
Much of the work has been going on at Lauderdale County high and elementary schools.
“This was where the largest renovations were taken place,” said Hatton.
The cafeteria has a fresh coat of paint, new equipment, new ceiling tiles, new lights and renovated hot water system and coolers.
“This is the most work that has gone on in (the cafeteria) in a long time,” said Principal Eric Cornelius. “It was needed and it looks good.”
Another thing Hatton is proud of is a paved parking lot at the back of the high school near the special needs classrooms.
“Parents and buses can drive them up to the classroom, and if they are in a wheelchair they can roll right (on) with the new paving,” Hatton said. “Plus, with the awning, it will keep the special needs students out of the weather.”
Cornelius said it’s something that was very much needed.
“It’s going to be so much better for these students and their parents,” he said.
In the elementary school, security, heating and air conditioning, and lighting upgrades have been the priority this summer.
Hatton said a new entrance has been constructed at the elementary school, and a classroom adjacent to the entrance has been turned into the new elementary school office.
Anyone with business at the elementary school can walk into a closed entryway, which is separated from the rest of the school by a security door.
“The office is right here to the right and they can conduct any business needed there,” Hatton said. “If they need to get into the school for some reason, they can be buzzed in.”
Cornelius said crews were able to reconfigure and convert an old classroom into the new office.
“It’s another element of security for our students and our staff,” Cornelius said.
Cornelius said new heating and air conditioning systems were installed in the first-grade wing of the elementary school.
“We had to put in new duct work for the heating and air. We needed new lighting, so while the ceiling tiles were out, it just made good sense to put in the new lights also,” Hatton said.
Cornelius said the lights will get brighter or dim depending on the amount sunlight that is coming into the classrooms.
“This type of technology is going in all new classroom constructions,” he said. “It keeps the light at a constant rate and is supposed to mean a saving in electrical use.”
He said the classroom lights are on sensors so the lights turn off when there is no one in the classroom and turn on when someone enters an empty room.
Hatton said work is nearing completion at all of the schools as teachers report Aug. 1 and students come back Aug. 7 for the first day of class.
Hatton said the school district has implemented a new online program where students can register for school using the internet.
“It just makes it more convenient,” he said.
Hatton said he wants to take a long-term look at capital projects this year, which include a proposed new career technical center. That center is to be built near the proposal agri-business multiple center planned to be located on U.S. 72.
In December the district will be upgrading its bus fleet with 38 new buses. Hatton said it’s a part of the system’s fleet management plan.
“Anything older than 10 years, you just don’t get any trade-in value,” he said. “So, this will improve our bus fleet by replacing some of the older buses.”
Hatton said the system is doing all it can to upgrade and use technology in the classroom.
“We’re going to do all we can to support our teachers and help them do their job in providing a good education for our students,” he said. “We are teaching to the state standard and we want to continue that and improve on what we are doing.”