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School tour taken, eye on upgrades
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School Board chair Helen Martin, left, and County Commissioner Diane Starkey look at overhead duct work at Bobby Ray that's being held together by duct tape. Bobby Ray is one of four schools in the system included in a $12.1 million renovation project. The school system is asking county government for help in funding the improvement projects.

Bobby Ray Elementary was toured Monday evening by members of the Warren County Commission and Board of Education.
Will the county earmark money to upgrade it?
Four onsite reviews of Bobby Ray, West Elementary, Warren County Middle and Eastside were scheduled as a follow-up to last week’s meeting of the county Education Committee that proposed $12.1 million in capital building projects at those schools.
According to the information presented to the group by Director of Schools Bobby Cox, the main building at Bobby Ray which houses the offices, lunchroom and library was constructed in 1974, while the two buildings behind it were constructed in 1976 and 1962.
During the tour of Bobby Ray, principal Monti Hillis and several teachers were on hand to outline the issues, which included overcrowded classrooms, large rooms divided into 2-4 smaller classrooms creating a disruption and hindering the learning environment, lack of storage, noncompliance with ADA, and security, just to name a few.
Security is an issue with students having to move from building to building throughout the day.
“The open layout is an issue for security,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox. “We were hoping to enclose the walkways so students no longer have to go outside in order to go from one building to the next.”
The school does have a fence.
“The fence is about this high,” said Hillis, as she raised her hand up to shoulder level.
Commissioner Tommy Savage said, “That’s just enough to keep a child from getting out but not enough to keep a grown person from getting in.”
Hillis corrected, “It’s not enough to keep a child in. We have instances where they have climbed over the fence. Thankfully, those instances ended with nothing terrible happening.”
Commissioner Carlene Brown asked if Bobby Ray was the only school with an open concept creating security issues.
“No,” said Cox. “West Elementary is open and so is Warren County Middle School. In all three schools, students are outside as they move between buildings. It’s not an ideal situation.”
Once the tour of Bobby Ray was complete, those in attendance traveled to West Elementary for a review of that facility. West’s main building was constructed in 1964. A wing was added in 1974 and the gymnasium was added in 1986.
The tours were arranged to sell county commissioners on the need to make improvements.
Renovation estimates are: Bobby Ray $3.2 million, West Elementary $1.8 million, Eastside $2.3 million, and WCMS $4.5 million. Actual numbers are not known at this time.
An onsite review of Warren County Middle School is scheduled for Thursday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m. The tour of Eastside School that was set for that evening had to be canceled due to scheduling problems. According to Cox, a new date has yet to be set.