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Work comes to halt at Baskerville school site / March 25, 2020

Construction work has come to a halt at the consolidated secondary school site in Baskerville due to issues with relocating a fiber optic cable that runs under the property.

The pause in construction was a major topic of discussion at the monthly School Board meeting on Tuesday, March 17, with Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols explaining the nature of the problem to trustees.

According to Nichols, AT&T must determine if a new fiber optic line which has been spliced into the existing one can receive internet communications. Until the connection is tested and confirmed, work cannot move forward on removing the old fiber from the site.

Before running tests on the new line, AT&T must reroute communications through a redundant fiber optic network. However, officials with AT&T have told Nichols that the company is not currently able to perform all of the needed tasks to ensure the interoperability of the new and existing fiber.

Testing and rerouting of signals is handled by an Atlanta facility.

Until the problem is resolved, the pouring of concrete footers and foundation work cannot continue at the site, Nichols said. He told trustees that he does not know when AT&T will complete the fiber optic line relocation, and has written a letter to AT&T officials asking them to proceed as soon as possible with the needed work.

This week, Nichols said he received a reply from AT&T and they promised to complete the needed work “on time,” as spelled out in the county’s timeline for construction of the new school complex.

In other business, Food Service Director Robin Moore said student breakfasts and lunches pick-ups that began Monday, March 16 went smoothly on that first day. Students were given both cold and hot foods. 109 meals were distributed at South Hill Elementary, 35 at Chase City Elementary and 49 at Clarksville Elementary School.

As of Wednesday, March 18, meals became available for pick-up at La Crosse Elementary School. All food pick-ups take place between 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Lunch for the day and breakfast for the following morning will be available at each pick-up, but the meals must be ordered from the pick-up location by 8:30 a.m. each day.

The order form is available online. Those who cannot access the forms online can call the meal hotline at (434) 533-9060. Moore said please use either the online form or the phone, but not both to order meals.

Linda Messier, who oversees the backpack buddies program for Clarksville Elementary School, said students who received weekend backpack meals at Clarksville Elementary while school was in session will be able to pick up their backpacks on Fridays along with their other meals. Typically, the backpack meal program only operates during the school year. Messier said these are extraordinary times and so the backpack team is doing all it can to continue the program for as long as possible.

Messier said they are also dropping off extra meals at the Food Pantry in Clarksville for those in need.

Nichols was asked why the division was not using the buses to deliver meals to students. He replied that the rules related to the free breakfast and lunch program call for the students to receive “cold” milk, not shelf-stable milk, and the school division does not have coolers or other equipment available to keep milk cold while running the bus routes. He also said the transportation department was removing the buses from service while schools were out to perform maintenance work and deep cleaning.

Trustees were debated how to move forward with the budget hearing process in the face of the governor’s order to limit the size of groups at public events to 10 or fewer. They reached no conclusion and ultimately decided to postpone the public hearing on the budget from March 23 to a date in the future.

Maintenance Director Brian Dalton updated trustees on the next round of maintenance projects for the various school buildings over the coming fiscal year. Projects include resurfacing the gym floor at Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse elementary schools, new flooring in the music room and four restrooms at South Hill Elementary School, and painting several rooms at South Hill Elementary School.

Dalton also discussed plans to renovate the transportation office and install cameras in school buses and cars. The Central Office also plans to begin an architectural study of elementary schools which are set to be replaced or renovated once work is completed on the new secondary school complex.

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