Maritime trades academy building design changes

PASCAGOULA – A future multimillion dollar school aimed at educating shipbuilders in South Mississippi is being scaled down to stay within its budget.

The $20 million federally funded Jackson County Maritime Trades Academy is meant to provide a skilled work force and help Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding expand its two- to four-year apprentice program from 610 to 1,000 students.

The academy is to be built on about 9 acres just north of Northrop’s employee center. Its first class of students is expected to begin studying in fall 2012.

Richard Shulby, design manager for The LPA Group in Ocean Springs, told Jackson County supervisors this week that one hurdle they’ve run into is the recent $2 million increase in soil and site requirements to build.

After that unanticipated budget overrun, LPA scaled down the project by simplifying the exterior and removing a few classrooms, an auditorium and a high roof that provided mechanical space.

LPA officials said while Northrop expressed little need for an auditorium, the company did request a multipurpose room.

The LPA Group said it will ask the Mississippi Department Authority to move some funds around within the budget to allow for a larger construction budget and the multipurpose room.

There is currently about $13.2 million in the construction budget, Shulby told supervisors, but more could be available if shifted from the furniture, fixtures and equipment funding.

“With a reallocation … we believe we can do this building within the budget,” he said.

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