Sims Junior High School will become Union County's newest elementary school.
The Union County Board of School Trustees voted unanimously Monday night to make Sims the fourth elementary school in the Union area. The move was recommended by Superintendent Dr. David Eubanks who said Sims fits the needs of the proposed elementary school and can be easily renovated to bring it up to date.
“Traffic circulation around the current Sims site is good,” Eubanks said. “The building sits on 21 acres, all of which is usable. It has a metal roof in great condition. It has an auditorium that is excellent for use by the students and the community. It has a gym which is needed at this point in elementary schools. The basic structure is excellent and it's strongly felt that a top-notch renovation will render this building in an as new condition.”
Plans call for the sixth grade at Excelsior Middle School and the seventh and eighth grades at Sims to be moved to a new school for grades 6-8 that will be built on U.S. 176. The elementary school system in the Union area will be reorganized with Sims becoming a K-5 school.
Though it was originally announced that the school not chosen would be closed, Eubanks said no final decision had been made about the future of Excelsior.
Eubanks said that a date for the school's shift from junior high to elementary school has not been set. The board will make that determination based on the availability of funding.
Eubanks added that once Sims is renovated as an elementary school and the 6-8 and K-8 schools are built, all remaining portable classrooms will be eliminated. Plans call for the two new schools to open in August 2009 and the reorganization of the elementary school system in Union could be completed as early as August 2010, eliminating the portables.
The district's portable classrooms are all more than 30 years old and since the consolidation of the county's high schools, the district has been gradually getting rid of them. Currently, 37 portable classrooms remain in use in the Union and Jonesville attendance areas.
In a related matter, trustees voted unanimously to award the bid for site work on the new 6-8 school on U.S. 176 in the Union area to McMillan/Carter, Inc. for $1,575,575. The award was recommended by Eubanks who said McMillan/Carter was the lowest bidder out of the 17 companies that submitted bids. Eubanks said that the work, which will begin immediately, will be financed with revenues generated by the $42 million in bonds issued by the district in December 2006.
The 6-8 school is one of two that will be built by the district. The other is a K-8 school at the intersection of U.S. 176 and New Hope Church Road in the Jonesville area. Eubanks said that bids for the construction of the 6-8 school building will be opened Feb. 21 and bids for the site work at the K-8 school will be opened on March 12. Building construction bids will be opened on March 27.
During a December groundbreaking ceremony for the two new schools, the new 6-8 school was referred to as Sims Middle School. Board chairman B.J. McMorris said that although no formal vote had been taken, the consensus of the board is that the new school would be named Sims.
Sims was originally the name of Union County's all-black high school. After integration it became a junior high school.
The district's building program also includes improvements to its existing schools. One of those improvements is upgrading the library/media center at Union County High School. The board voted unanimously Monday to approve the upgrade, which is projected to cost approximately $100,000 and will include painting, new carpet and furnishings. Eubanks said the furnishings will be obtained through the state contract bid list with the remainder of the work put up for bid.