Council members held an informal work session with city schools Superintendent Robert Sparkman and city school board members last Tuesday to discuss funding the construction of the school. The meeting, which lasted more than two hours, saw city council members and city school board members work toward coming up with a budget for building a new school.
Sparkman told council members the cost to build the school could top $74 million, but said costs could be far less.
That prompted council members to declare a budget of $52 million, which was negotiated between council members.
“At this time, I would like to make the recommendation that we commit to a budget of $52 million to construct the new Walker High School,” Mayor Sonny Posey said to council members Tuesday morning.
The city’s part in the construction of the new school would come from issuance of a bond, Posey said. “That would include building costs, and all soft costs related to construction of the school,” Posey said.
Council president Gary Cowen said it’s his understanding that should costs exceed $52 million, the Jasper City School Board would work to finance the remainder of the cost. “I think everybody’s looked at it and feels good about this,” Cowen said.
The measure passed 4-1, with council member Jed Daniel the lone vote against it.
Cowen said the council and city school board are working to come to an agreement on the construction of the school.
“They realize that there were a lot of cuts that had to be made (from the $74 million),” Cowen said.
“In developing a budget, we looked at Hartselle High School and we looked at Hueytown High School,” Cowen added, “and we looked at the cost and, really, $52 million is right where we should be. That’s a lot of money, and if we can’t build something really nice for that ... I think for that price, you can build a first-class high school.”