At Thursday’s meeting, Fort Payne Superintendent Jim Cunningham updated the Board of Education about progress on the new school and other projects.

“We’re taking baby steps, we’re getting closer,” Cunningham said concerning ongoing work at Little Ridge Intermediate School.

“It is much more completed on the inside than the outside. The rain continues to slow [construction]. I know we are going to be very proud of it. I can’t wait for you to do a walk-through and see the designs on the floors, which reflect the curriculum. It is really, really shaping up now to be exactly what we thought it would be.”

The hallways of the new school evoke a winding river while each wing of the E-shaped campus displays graphics such as a constellation, map of Alabama, etc. The interior work, less hampered by the weather, appeared down to detail work in much of it when The Times-Journal visited this week. The school will host students in grades three through five.

“Our plan is to have this thing ready for next school next year,” Cunningham said. “I feel good about that.”

The new school will replace Williams Avenue Elementary, which has been in service since 1954. Groundbreaking for the $22.8 million project was April 2019. The school contains 50 classrooms, plus dedicated spaces for project-based and STEM learning, gymnasium and lunchroom. It will also be the first school in Alabama with Power Over Ethernet lighting and is structurally reinforced to withstand even the force of an EF-5 tornado.

Cunningham also discussed renovations behind Wildcat Stadium to install piping.

“The ditch is no longer a ditch. It is being prepared to become a parking lot,” he said. “[Fort Payne Public Works Director] Tim Williams, who has been fantastic as far as all of the work moving the soil and preparing that for future use, estimates that we should gain 350-400 additional parking spots in that area. That’s a great addition. That ditch has never been anything but a ditch. Thanks for allowing us to do that.”

Cunningham also took time to recognize a large number of students, teachers and coaches who have achieved awards and victories. The Times-Journal will share more on these in Wednesday’s edition.

In other business, the board:

• accepted the resignations of fifth grade teacher Patty Bobo from Fort Payne Middle School, due to retirement in June, and Veronica Rodriguez as Child Nutrition Program (CNP) worker, also at FPMS, effective Feb. 19.

• approved a contract of employment for Chief School Financial Officer Patty Strickland.

• approved requests from Fort Payne High School Principal Brian Jett for the baseball, track and field and tennis team to travel to matches next month in Summerville, Rome and Trenton.

• approved a request from CNP Director Laran Adkins to join the Tennessee Valley CNP Cooperative to purchase supplemental grocery items and approved the lowest bid of $13,913.93 from Osborn Brothers.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for March 25 in the conference room of the Central Office.

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