Tupelo projects include pre-K expansion

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District will create space for more pre-K students and give its high school baseball field a major face-lift.
The school board approved four construction projects during its regular meeting Tuesday to be funded by $4.4 million in low-interest bonds the district received this year from the federal stimulus program.
Tupelo will use the money to add several classrooms to the Early Childhood Education Center, renovate the baseball field at its current location, upgrade the high school cafeteria and do some minor renovations at Carver Elementary School.
The ECEC renovation will allow for either four, six, eight or 10 new classrooms, depending on the cost after bids are received. It also will include more parking at the school for 4-year-olds.
The district currently has 260 4-year-olds enrolled, including a new class that began Dec. 1. Each new classroom will allow for 20 additional students.
Tupelo currently has about 600 students in kindergarten and is trying to get closer to that number with its pre-K population.
“I think the most important thing is to plan for the future and have the availability to serve more children,” said TPSD Federal Programs Director Dale Warriner. “There is obviously a need.”

The baseball work will include replacing the backstop and renovating the press box, dugouts and concession stand, plus adding a visitor bleacher section. It also will make the stadium more handicap accessible.
The plan is to have the backstop, dugouts and press box completed by the season opener on Feb. 22 and then continue with the rest of the work.
“We will make some major renovations to modernize the facilities and make it very comparable to some 6A fields,” said TPSD Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon.
The field is located on the Tupelo Middle School campus, which used to be the high school. The district considered building a new field on the current high school campus but determined renovating the existing field would be more cost-effective, said Superintendent Gearl Loden.
The high school cafeteria renovation will allow for seating for 200 additional students. It will also create outdoor seating that can also be used by classes at the school.
The work at Carver includes replacing windows and carpet.

Click video to hear audio