Board looks at $6.3 million upgrade for Baker school buildings

School Board members discussed during a work session Tuesday night making $6.3 million in upgrades to district buildings, mostly on the Baker High School campus.

The board voted Feb. 5 to allow Volkert Inc. to prepare to accept bids for work on the high school.

According to Volkert’s estimate, repairs and upgrades to the 62-year-old facility would cost $4.9 million.

The “hard cost,” including materials and labor, would be $4.1 million, design is expected to cost $305,000 and the 5 percent contingency cost would be $232,000, according to the estimate. Volkert’s management fee would be $230,000.

Plans call for major renovations to the stadium and McConnell Auditorium, along with window and exterior door replacement, drainage improvements, upgraded interior lighting and acoustical tiles, pavement repairs, a security and intercom system, exterior painting and roof repairs.

The proposal included lighting improvements to all schools in the district.

Engineering and project consulting firm MEL, of Baton Rouge, conducted an assessment of interior lighting in Baker Middle, Park Ridge Academic Magnet, Bakerfield Elementary and Baker Heights Elementary schools.

It found lighting was less than half what it should be in most of the school buildings, company representative Morgan Watson said.

Watson told the council that the company recommended high-efficiency LED lighting to replace the florescent bulbs in use in the schools. The new fixtures have a 30- to 45-year life cycle with no need to replace bulbs, he said. He added that the cost of the LEDs would be covered by energy savings within two years.

Other business before the board included:

SECURITY NEEDS: Superintendent Ulysses Joseph presented the board with an assessment of security in the district schools prepared by a committee of personnel and staff within the district.

He proposed buying security cameras for buses and buildings, hiring five full-time resource officers to be stationed in schools, installing a radio system connecting the schools with the central offices and improving signage and lighting in schools.

Joseph said buying equipment such as cameras and radios to improve security in Baker Heights would cost $5,440. Similar equipment for Baker High School would be $9,170. Joseph did not conduct cost estimates for the other schools in the district.

A few cameras had been installed in school buildings and buses, but most were not maintained and are now broken, he said.

Board member Doris Alexander suggested inviting Police Chief Mike Knapp to the next board meeting to discuss safety issues.