Report: SHS in ‘fair’ shape

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 16, 2007

This is the final story in a three-part series on the Selma City School System.

By Cassandra Mickens

The Times-Journal

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Selma High School, formerly Albert G. Parrish High School, has seen its share of wear and tear since its 1939 construction.

The aging facility is a top priority among the City of Selma Board of Education, whose members are weighing two options – renovate or rebuild.

During the board’s regular meeting in February, former Superintendent Dr. James Carter recommended the board hire Volkert & Associates, Inc., a national engineering, architectural, planning and environmental consulting company, to perform a three-week assessment to determine the current condition of the school. The assessment cost the school system $13,700.

Last week, the board received the first draft of a facility assessment report prepared by Volkert & Associates, which deemed the overall site to be in “fair to good condition.”

The report concludes it would take an estimated $20,487,500 to renovate. The board estimates a $27 million to $35 million price tag to rebuild.

The report includes comprehensive evaluations of the schools’ main building, east wing, south wing, auditorium and additional areas.

Despite renovations, Board President Ben Givan said Selma High can’t escape its age.

“Even the architect said he can make it look new, but it’s not new,” Givan said.

Main Building

According to the report, “no cracks, loose bricks or missing mortar were noted” in the main building. The mortar joints are considered to be in fair to good condition, but Barbara Hiouas, board vice president, says fair to good condition doesn’t bring a sigh of relief.

“Fair to good condition means there’s a 10-year life expectancy on (the main building) as far as the mortar,” Hiouas said. “There was a lot of soft mortar – it’s impossible to refurbish mortar.”

The report indicates the main building’s aluminum frame windows with plexiglass panes were replaced during the 1970s and several window panes are “milked” or clouded.

The classrooms within the main building were rated in fair condition given their age.

“The classroom walls are painted plaster with water damage noted throughout,” the report states. The classroom wood stile and rail doors are installed with residential style hardware, which is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since a diverse assortment of hardware is installed on the doors, “50 or more keys are required to access the buildings throughout the Selma High School campus.”

Classroom ceilings were repaired as part of the school’s 2002 renovation and were rated in good condition. Chalkboards were rated in poor condition, the result of “extreme wear on the writing surface.”

The report also notes “a lack of technology in all classrooms,” stating “the technology that was present was outdated and much of it does not function properly.”

Volkert & Associates rated the main building’s restrooms in poor condition, reporting holes, cracks and missing tiles on the ceramic floors, severe signs of moisture infiltration on the walls, broken exhaust fans, broken toilet fixtures and missing bathroom accessories such as paper towels, soap and toilet paper dispensers.

Board Member Coley Chestnut, who routinely assesses the city’s school facilities, believes students would take more pride in Selma High once conditions are improved.

“It’s hard for kids to be motivated when the bathroom’s dirty and you can’t sit down on the toilet,” he said.

Board Member John Williams agreed, reporting

“urine in the stairways” due to clogged toilets.

East Wing & South Wing

Constructed in 1954, Selma High’s east wing is a “multi-story slab-on-grade building with concrete block walls, brick/block veneer and built-up roof with metal decking.”

Four science labs were added in 1967, bringing the building’s total square footage to approximately 37,000, the report states. The building is currently receiving a new roof.

Like the main building, no cracks, loose bricks or missing mortar were reported and numerous frame windows have been declared “milked” or cloudy. The east wing classrooms’ ceilings and walls were rated as fair to poor due to severe water damage.

The restrooms were rated fair to poor due to missing and stained ceiling tiles and old toilet fixtures and flush valves. Exhaust fans were operational.

The south wing, constructed in 1987, was built to house science and math curriculums.

At 29,500 square feet, the south wing had a new roof installed in 2003 and its steel doors are in fair condition.

Moisture stains were noted on the acoustic ceiling tiles of the classrooms and the restroom ceilings were rated poor.

However, the toilet compartments were rated in fair to good condition and bathroom accessories were in fair condition. Exhaust fans were operational.


Located just east of the main building, the auditorium is currently being re-roofed.

Constructed in 1957, the auditorium seats approximately

600 people with additional seating in the balcony. The original wooden seats and parquet flooring are both in fair condition, yet several seats are in need of repair.

The stage curtain is rated as old and in poor condition and the stage lighting “appears to be in fair condition, but it could not be determined if the equipment was in proper working order at the time of the inspections.”

The report also notes “extensive water damage” to the auditorium’s plaster walls and ceiling.

Acting Superintendent Dr. Verdell Dawson said Volkert & Associates is awaiting a response from the board to draw up a final report.

The board has discussed the possibility of building a new high school with Warren Craig Pouncey, state assistant superintendent of administrative and financial services.

Pouncey suggested the system maintain at least one month’s operating costs in its general fund, and added it would be “fiscally responsible to raise that level to two months which would be approximately $4 million.”

When Pouncey met with the board, the system’s fund balance was approximately $10 million.

Pouncey said he felt comfortable devoting $4 million of the system’s balance to the construction of a new high school.

“I also stressed that a new high school could easily cost $25 million and that the ultimate decision needed to be considered in partnership with the city, for appropriate educational reasons,” Pouncey said.