The big move

Published 7:06 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It’s been 30 months of construction and a total reorganization of the Decatur County School System, so Monday was just another hurdle that Jerry Mills had to cross to make the “big move.”

And Monday was the beginning of the “move”—moving into the new Bainbridge High School from the old high school, the Department of Education maintenance director didn’t want any more hiccups to go along with the numerous hurdles he’s crossed so far.

As he said Monday, after progressing well on the construction of the $47 million high school and the complete re-organization of the remaining schools, Mills said, “All of a sudden, it’s mine.”

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So with 11 Decatur County Prison trustees, the Bainbridge High School Marching Bearcat Band truck and a semi-truck, boxes and boxes of books, curriculum items, as well as furniture and tons of other items were taken from the old high school on College Street to the new high school on U.S. 84 East.

This was just the latest move.

Just another move

The first move Mills supervised began in May.

Lillian E. Williams Elementary School in Attapulgus is now closed and being vacated. Its first- through fourth-grade students will attend West Bainbridge Elementary School. So everything for first- through fourth-graders from LEW had to be moved to West Bainbridge Elementary on Zorn Road. Items for the fifth-graders went to Hutto.

West Bainbridge Middle School on Dothan Road is closing its doors to students too, so it too is being cleared of any books, curriculum items and furniture that is needed at Hutto or the new Bainbridge Middle School, which is the old high school.

Everything a fifth-grader may need from the remaining five elementary schools was moved to Hutto Middle School, which will be the county’s only school for fifth- and sixth-graders.

Anything a sixth-grader may have needed at West Bainbridge Middle School was taken to Hutto.

Anything a seventh- or eighth-grader might have needed at Hutto and at West Bainbridge Middle School was taken to the now Bainbridge Middle School on College Street.

And then of course, the new high school has to be ready.

All of this must be done by Aug. 3 when teachers report prior to school starting on Aug. 7—37 working days.

Mills has supervised all this, and rightfully so, it’s become his own.

“It’s been very challenging,” he said.

Mills, a 1967 graduate of the high school (the second graduating class of the old high school) he was supervising the move out on Monday, also taught welding at the old high school.

“I taught my first class here, and now we’re standing here moving out,” Mills said Monday morning.

That afternoon, Mills, Bainbridge High School Principal Tommie Howell and Decatur County Superintendent of Schools Ralph Jones were checking the number of desks, tables and chairs each classroom at the new high school need.

So along with supervising the construction of the 368,180-square-foot complex, Mills is making sure one classroom has 30 desks in it, and another classroom has only 20, and so on and on.

A veteran

Linda Lumpkin, assistant superintendent of schools, was in charge of the reorganization.

The planning has been going on for two years, but the work started in January, Lumpkin said.

More than 4,760 boxes were ordered and Mills’ office gathered another 500 or so, plus most of the boxes had to be labeled.

“This has been complicated because of the reorganization,” Lumpkin said calmly, who is somewhat juxtaposed to Mills and his elation.

Not only has it been challenging because of making sure age-appropriate furniture is in the right classroom, curriculum for each grade-level is at the correct school, and on top of that, Lumpkin has had to ensure that class-size mandates are followed.

Along with all the materials and supplies being shifted around, personnel had been shifted.

The last move the county’s school system was involved in was the completion of the West Bainbridge Elementary School, which Lumpkin was the principal of during that move.