By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The former Church Street Elementary School has a new tenant.
The Tupelo Public School District moved its finance department out of rented space and into the historic structure near the intersection of Church Street and Jackson Avenue this week.
The 10-member department will operate in newly-renovated offices on the building’s ground floor. The curriculum department has been located on its second floor since the spring.
The finance department was housed in Frisco Office Park for the past 14 years. The move will save about $30,000 annually in rent and utilities, said Finance Director Linda Pannell.
“We have a great relationship with Frisco Park, and they’ve been very good to us through the years,” said Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon. “Being underfunded, you have to look at everything to make sure we are being good stewards and are using our resources in the best way. We identified this as one thing we could do to save money.”
Church Street last held students in December 2012 when the district disbanded its High School Advancement Academy. It was last used as an elementary school during the 2010-11 school year. After that, it was merged with Carver Elementary, and its students were sent to Carver and Lawhon.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Dillon said the district was careful to maintain its integrity. It also installed walls that could be easily taken down if needed in the future.
Superintendent Gearl Loden said the move does not prevent the district from holding classes at Church Street again in the future.
“With regards to long-term plans for our district’s facilities, we will continue to carefully weigh the academic, financial and community benefits before making any decisions,” Loden said.
Dillon said there are not currently any plans to move other departments into the building.
“In an ideal world, it would be great to have everyone under one roof, but with storage issues and some other issues it is difficult,” he said. “We will continue to look at our long-term plans. That will always be something we will look at, but right now we’re comfortable with the situation we have across the district.”
Pannell said one benefit of the move is that the department will be able to store all of its records in one location. Previously they were located in three places.