BAKER — The Baker School Board agreed Tuesday to spend additional funds for lighting in Baker schools and funded rest room improvements at Park Ridge, even though some questioned whether that money should have gone instead to improve the alternative school.
The board voted 4-1 to spend an additional $98,787 for lighting upgrades in Park Ridge Academic Magnet, Baker Middle, Baker High, Bakerfield Elementary and Baker Heights Elementary, after engineering firm Mel Inc. miscalculated the number of lights that need to be addressed.
The board also approved $4,166 for Park Ridge rest room improvements.
Baker resident Jerrie Williams, who failed in her bid to unseat district 4 school board member Shona Boxie in the Nov. 4 election, said that money should be spent on the alternative school rather than improving lighting.
“It has no air conditioning, mildew and the conditions are deplorable,” she said of the alternative school, which is located in a wing of Baker High.
Board member Doris Alexander, who cast the lone no vote, displayed to the board pictures taken on her cellphone of restrooms in the alternative wing, showing problems including mold and leaks.
“We need to fix this. Parents are complaining and kids are getting sick,” she said.
The board did not address that issue any further Tuesday.
Clay Slagle, a representative of Volkert Inc., the company overseeing the building improvements to the Baker schools, told the board the $98,787 change order for the lighting upgrades represents the need to change out fixtures, including faulty exit signs and outdoor lighting, that were missed in the initial inspection of the buildings.
“So, you’re saying that we gave $94,339 (to Mel Inc.) and they didn’t do what we paid them to do?” Alexander said.
Slagle acknowledged that mistakes were made in the design, but added that the price per fixture would remain the same for the project, originally bid at $532,000.
In other business, the board recognized teachers of the year for 2013-14: Kanika Batiste, Park Ridge; Brendalyn Reese, Baker Middle; Amber Romero, Baker High; Rachel Benton, Bakerfield; and Tammy Miller, Baker Heights.
The board also congratulated Baker Heights Principal LaKesha Reese-Penn on the school’s improvement from an F grade in 2012-13 to a C in 2013-14.
“I am humbled and honored, but we were only doing what we were supposed to do,” Reese-Penn said.