City, BOE discuss high school project
by James Phillips
Jun 20, 2013 | 2157 views | 0 0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey speaks during a joint work session between the Jasper City Council and the Jasper Board of Education Wednesday. Daily Mountain Eagle - James Phillips
Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey speaks during a joint work session between the Jasper City Council and the Jasper Board of Education Wednesday. Daily Mountain Eagle - James Phillips
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Officials with the City of Jasper and the Jasper City Board of Education spent more than an hour in a work session Wednesday afternoon discussing the upcoming new Walker High School project.

In the last several weeks, the two groups have approved contracts related to the new school construction. The BOE passed architectural and construction management contracts in May, while city officials approved an amended version of those contracts on Tuesday.

Both parties are considered owners in the project, because funding for the school is coming largely from a 1-percent tax increase passed by the Jasper City Council earlier this year.

“There’s going to have to be a certain amount of trust on the part of both entities,” Mayor Sonny Posey said.

Posey said the city isn’t interested in controlling the day-to-day operation of the construction of the school. He added that city officials do want oversight of project details.

“Our concerns are taking the taxpayers dollars — that’s what we are spending,” Posey said. “They are going to be looking at all of us to get it right, and I think we owe them that.”

Jasper City Schools Superintendent Robert Sparkman suggested the mayor draft a memorandum of agreement that defines the process of approving items for the school project.

“I think that would solve any issues that we have,” Sparkman said. “A letter of agreement would allow us to move forward so we don’t get bogged down.”

Russ Robertson, the city’s attorney, said the agreement would basically define the process as the BOE being the first to review, amend and approve items, which are then passed along to the city for its approval.

“We can’t make an agreement legally in a work session, but I will recommend to the council that we send the letter and I believe they would approve that idea,” Posey said.

Robertson said he would have a copy of the letter for Sparkman to review by the end of the week. Posey suggested the council would vote on the issue at its next meeting, which is scheduled for July 2.

The budget for the project was also discussed during the work session. Both groups agreed the budget will be $50 to $60 million. Sparkman said a more accurate number will not be possible until architectural plans are finalized.

Sparkman also said he believes the construction will take more than two years to complete.

“We need to keep expectations reasonable. It’s going to take a minimum of six months just to get the site ready,” he said. “This is a large project and we can’t control the weather. It might could be done in two years, but I would say probably more like two and a half.”