The Jefferson County Board of Education is considering moving the William E. Burkett Center School from its current location in Birmingham to the current Mortimer Jordan High School campus in Morris.
The new Mortimer Jordan campus in Kimberly is scheduled to be complete in January or February of next year, according to Board of Education Director of New Construction Dr. Rafael McDaniel, and the school board is considering moving the Burkett school to the Morris campus when it becomes vacant.
“I’m not sure that just walking away from the Mortimer Jordan campus would be the best option since we have invested so much into it,” said board member and Gardendale resident Karen Nix. “I wouldn’t feel I was doing my job responsibly without considering every available option and making the best use of taxpayer money.”
Several renovations were done to the Morris campus about six years ago, including 10 new classrooms. McDaniel said he liked the idea of utilizing those renovations for the Burkett students.
Until recently, the board had been considering undertaking a major construction project to build onto Burkett’s current campus, but the architect’s proposal went about $1.4 million over budget. The board voted to reject the bid at its regular meeting on Monday.
“We thought we would look at another option,” said McDaniel. “It’s just a possibility right now, but it sounds pretty promising.”
The Burkett School is a special-needs school, so if the board decides to move Burkett to the Morris campus, it would still have to spend $3-4 million to make Mortimer Jordan more handicap accessible.
Restrooms would have to be remodeled to accommodate wheelchair access, and several walkways and ramps would need to be added. McDaniel said there would be a greater need for storage space as well. The board might also build new handicap-accessible playgrounds on the campus.