ALPENA — Inspection of facilities at Alpena School is still continuing as Superintendent David Westenhover said a structural engineering team was brought in Monday to check out buildings.
That inspection is a part of the process as school officials try to make plans for the future on the heels of two millage increase requests that voters in the district have rejected in two elections. Plans called for building a new high school building to replace Old Main.
After the first unsuccessful election in 2017, the Arkansas Division of Public School Facilities and Transportation inspected Old Main and other buildings. They found nothing to be dangerous and the school was allowed to continue using Old Main.
After the second failed election, the division once again inspected all buildings high school students use and offered recommendations on what needed to be done.
But the division also encouraged the district to consider hiring a structural engineer to dig deeper into potential problems.
In June, the school board discussed some of the division’s recommendations, but board members also agreed a structural engineering inspection would be necessary before any decisions were made.
Westenhover said the district hired Tatum-Smith Engineering, Inc. of Rogers to do such an inspection. He said the cost was about $6,000.
Inspectors went through high school buildings Monday.
Westenhover said they won’t submit a formal written report until at least next week, but they said the buildings weren’t in danger of falling down and are still safe to use.
However, the engineers did say that any remodeling of buildings could pose a problem: If more than 20% of the building is remodeled, the entire building must be brought up to meet state codes.
The district had qualified for about $2.5 million in state partnership funding for the estimated $5.2 million project. In order to qualify for that money, however, the district would have to begin construction by Oct. 28 of this year and construction would have to be completed by April 27, 2021.
Board members expressed some hope in June that the district might be able to find a way to develop a construction plan or to apply for that partnership funding again before the Oct. 28 deadline.
A school district can only ask voters for a tax increase once during a calendar year, so there can’t be another election this year.
Westenhover said he and board president Kenny Underdown are scheduled to meet with state officials July 24 to discuss options for the school going forward.