$25 million secured for PCHS
PHIL CAMPBELL – Franklin County Schools Superintendent Gary Williams said parents, teachers and students of Phil Campbell High School can breathe a little easier now that the school board has received a commitment in writing that funds will be available to help rebuild PCHS.
Williams said Monday the letter promising $25 million in assistance came from the Alabama Department of Finance and would be instrumental in helping the tornado-damaged high school receive a fresh start.
“This is great news for our school systems and for the Phil Campbell community,” Williams said. “This letter of guaranteed assistance is a load off our shoulders here at the board of education and it will give assurance to the employees and students at Phil Campbell that they will have a new school that will be a safe and secure place to learn.”
Williams said the $25-million figure from the department of finance was determined after FEMA and the insurance company had given their estimates for assistance.
He said of that $25 million, $4.2 million had already been used on cleaning up debris from the tornado, getting the mobile units the students are currently using up and running for this school year and partial work done to the stadium to make sure it was functional for this past football season.
He said another $2 million would be earmarked for site work and drainage issues; $1.5 million would go towards architect expenses and $200,000 would be set aside for testing and commission, leaving over $17 million for the actual construction of the buildings.
“With this money, we will be able to rebuild the classroom buildings, which will house the actual classrooms, the computer and access labs, the home ec classroom and the ag classroom,” Williams said. “The money will also cover the administration pod, the gymnasium, the band room, the auditorium, the ag shop and the media center as well as completing the finishing touches on the stadium.”
Williams said the school would also feature safe rooms that would be large enough to accommodate each student, faculty and staff member at PCHS.
“This has definitely been a frustrating process over the past nine months because our funding for the new school had to come from three different sources: FEMA, the insurance company and the state,” Williams said.
“It took a lot of teamwork to coordinate all this funding and get us to this point and we couldn’t have done this without people like Johnny Mack Morrow, Roger Bedford, other legislative leaders across the state who stood up for us, Dep. Asst. Superintendent Dr. Craig Pouncey and state school architect Perry Taylor,” Williams said.
“Our assistant superintendent Donald Borden has also gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the mobile units were in place by the beginning of the school year and has dealt with insurance and FEMA maters almost on a daily basis since school started back.
“Without these people we wouldn’t be where we are today and we are so appreciative of their support and their efforts to make sure our children will have a new, safe school.”
Williams said the school board has already bid out the work for the demolition of the old high school and the only thing they are waiting on before they get started is a historical study on the gym and home ec/ag building.
“FEMA has to do a historical study on those two buildings before they can wrap up their end of this,” Williams said. “Since the buildings are so old, they have to make sure they shouldn’t be placed on the historical registry.
“We’re hoping to expedite this process to get it done as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, the school’s architect is drawing up the plans for the school and Williams said he thought the historical study would be completed by the time the plans were finished.
“We’re hoping to get started with the demolition and the rebuilding process by late spring,” he said. “Once we get started, it should take between 18 to 24 months to have everything completed.”