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Capital improvement plan leaders want to make ‘immediate impact’ on MPS schools

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 10:29 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery Public Schools and city leaders say they are working to bring a 21st-century education to its current and prospective students while helping the community.

On Monday, Mayor Steven Reed and consultant project management firm Volkert joined MPS officials to announce the latest in a capital project improvement plan for the school system.

Volkert said the project has been in the due diligence phase since early August. Teams assessed facilities and talked with teachers and staff to understand the suitability of the education environments.

Many of the facilities are in significant need of structural and safety updates, said Volkert COO Leon Barkan.

This phase also included a demographic study to get a “good understanding” of enrollment.

The next phase will be to gather community input.

Over the following weeks and months, there will also be community input sessions. Those session dates have not been announced.

“Getting community input, community buy-in is incredibly important to achieving a successful building program,” Barkan said.

Barkan said the hope is that the project will be an economic impact multiplier, impacting students, residents, and businesses by ensuring the money going into the project will also impact the community.

Barkan said the school board passed a policy that required Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, or DBE, participation. They want to help local businesses be able to compete and participate and benefit from the significant investment.

They will hold a participation seminar for businesses that want to learn more about becoming involved in the project. The seminar will be on Oct. 5 at Carver High School.

MPS says the focus of the participation seminars will be to reach women and minority-led businesses.

Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore said it is too soon to tell if any schools will be closed. The decision to close a school, if needed, will be made after all the data is analyzed and financial information is accessed.

“I’m an advocate for public schools, I understand that there are options, but we want our option to be just as viable as anybody else’s,” Moore added.

Barkan said they want to expedite the modernization of facilities to make an immediate impact, which means they will start the design of all of the projects at once.

They will start advertising for professional services in a matter of days.

“If you want a 21st-century student, you’ve got to have a 21st-century education,” Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said during the news conference.

Reed added that a 21st-century education includes the curriculum and teachers and the facilities and environment where students learn.

The capital improvement plan’s funding will come from the property tax millage increase approved in 2020.

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