BOE accepts bid, plans extensive gym repairs

Published 7:00 am Sunday, November 26, 2023

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The Butler County Board of Education (BOE) members and Superintendent Joseph Eiland discussed what the group called the frustrating circumstances around the Greenville High School (GHS) gym repairs, and heard details of the tied election for Alabama’s District Two Director position at its Nov. 16 meeting. 

Last Christmas Eve, a pipe froze and burst in the attic of the GHS weight room and flooded the entire gym in a foot of water. The facility has been closed since January while the board worked through funding and construction bids. 

The closed gymnasium has caused serious scheduling strains for students as sports team members currently have to share the Greenville Middle School gym. The GHS varsity basketball team is enduring 5:00 a.m. practice meets to accommodate the lack of space. 

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Eiland announced that Allied Assurance Company from Thomasville won the gym’s construction bid for a total of $915,000 to restore the GHS gym back to full working order. Unfortunately, the school’s insurance company countered with its final financial aid bid of only $278,000 leaving the board with a $637,000 financial gap to fill. 

Eiland explained that the insurance company will not replace bleachers which its representatives stated were not a part of the original gym structure, and therefore will not be financially taken into account.

“The damage entails the gym floor, bleachers, two locker rooms, three offices, the weight room, and then there are the showers and restrooms that have to be retiled,” Eiland said. “There is drywall that has to be replaced and part of the walls around the actual inside of the gym, not to mention the electronic equipment including the sound system and electronic scoring table that is gone. So, it’s pretty extensive.”

Eiland explained that he has written letters to Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth, Governor Kay Ivey, Representative Chris Sells and Senator Robert Stewart imploring for financial aid. 

“We are doing everything we possibly can, everything anybody could ask of us other than having it done now or six months ago,” Eiland said. “We appreciate the grace, mercy and patience that people have had with us, it’s been a very unpleasant experience trying to get the insurance companies to do what they should do in my opinion.”

Eiland added that the repairs are going to begin regardless of the lack of funding and are aiming for a starting date in mid-December.

He also said the board members and himself plan to petition Representative Sells to draft a bill before the legislature conference giving the board permission to seek its own insurance company rather than using the Department of Risk Management. 

“Representative Sells is working really diligently for our county in securing funding and provides our district with funds every year,” Eiland said. 

In continued efforts, the board also applied for the Lieutenant Governor’s grant requesting $3 million for a multitude of high priority needs throughout Butler County schools, but only $600,000 was given and would have to be distributed throughout the six schools, leaving no funding to aid with the GHS gym repairs. The actual financial disbursement of this grant will be discussed at the next board meeting. 

Other business focused on the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) Association District Two Director elections. Board member Wayne Boswell explained that his director nomination, Ola Ford of the Linden City BOE, tied with Camille Gibson of Bibb County BOE. 

“The election gives the opportunity for each board in the district to vote for one candidate,” Boswell said. “The election resulted in a tie, and under AASB bylaws there is a second election. I attended the district two meeting in September and listened to both candidates speak. In my judgment, Mrs. Ford is the top choice.”

Board President Michael Nimmer will attend the AASB Convention to vote in the tie-breaker on Dec. 1.