By Louie Graves
A 15-minute discussion between the property-owning couple, the Mineral Springs School Board and the architect finally removed an obstacle on the road to a new school facility at Mineral Springs.
The discussion was pleasant, Monday night, when the owners, Lyle and Tracy Cooley – both Mineral Springs alumni – gently spurned the school’s offer of $150,000 for their home, which is the only privately-held property on the two blocks where Mineral Springs would like to build its new K-12 school.
The couple said they had looked and been unable to find anything they wanted to move into. Instead, they would prefer to build nearby on property Lyle’s family already owns, and they wanted $160,500 for the 0.8 acre lot and brick house.
The architect, Craig Boone, indicated that without the property the school plan would have to be changed and the construction would take longer, meaning higher cost.
Boone said the new school is expected to cost $15-$20 million.
School board members questioned the couple and the architect, then Superintendent Curtis Turner recommended that the school pay the asking price. The board agreed and voted unanimously on board member Mike Erwin’s motion.
A stipulation is that they should be moved by June 1 so that demolition can begin. The Cooley family agreed although they said they might have to put possessions in storage.
Architect Boone said he had begun advertising for a project manager. In a conversation before the meeting, he said he was a University of Arkansas College of Architecture graduate and co-owner of the firm. He said he had experience with a wide range of school projects, ranging from restrooms to whole school facilities.
He told The Nashville Leader that the MS project could be more difficult than one in a larger population town and that he preferred to use small, local subcontractors which sometimes complicated the project. He said he envisioned a large building housing all grades and a gymnasium. Some existing buildings will be used. Construction will get underway and a fence will be erected so that both school and construction can go on simultaneously.
Boone gave the board a review of work done so far. In the superintendent’s office just off the meeting room, preliminary plans were spread out over the table.
Turner said that the school administration offices and the ABC and Headstart operations might move to the unused Saratoga campus since the MS buildings will be among the first to be demolished.
At the end of the meeting the board retired in executive session to consider personnel matters. After 65 minutes they returned to open meeting. First there was a motion to extending Earl Haddan’s status as substitute teacher for the remainder of the spring semester. In an unusual development, three board members abstained from voting, and three voted for the extension. Board chairman William Dixon told the newspaper that he considered that to mean that the proposal failed.
By unanimous vote, the board voted to hire Tim Erwin as a classroom supervisor at $300 per day. The board also voted unanimously to extend Turner’s contract for two years.
Board members present included Chairman Dixon, Mike Erwin, Jamie Jackson, Sheila Jackson, Dorothy Vaughn and Zemeria Newton. Absent was Ray Hawkins.