Columbia County might tear down older schools

Plan announced this morning includes many changes

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 9:13 AM
Last updated 9:23 PM
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At least four Columbia County schools might be rebuilt and another shut down under a sales tax package proposed this morning by school officials.

The Columbia County Board of education announced that its plans to close Bel Air Elementary (shown) and redistribute those students to new, larger schools built on the current sites of Martinez and Evans elementary schools.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
The Columbia County Board of education announced that its plans to close Bel Air Elementary (shown) and redistribute those students to new, larger schools built on the current sites of Martinez and Evans elementary schools.

If voters pass the $148.6 million 1-percent sales tax package to go before them on the July 20 ballot, new construction likely will start with Columbia Middle School.

With a price tag of almost $20 million, the school would be relocated between Hereford Farm and Belair roads on Columbia Road and its capacity increased from 38 classrooms to 51, according to a five-year facility study conducted by school officials.

The new Columbia Middle could hold as many as 1,100 pupils and relieve overcrowding at Evans Middle, Superintendent Charles Nagle told school board members during a Wednesday meeting.

Once the new school opens in 2012, the former site would be used to expand the system's Nutrition and Transportation departments.

The old school might also be used to house Evans Elementary pupils for a year.

Nagle said he hopes to find a new site for a new Evans Elementary. If that effort fails, pupils from the school might temporarily move to Columbia Middle while a new school is constructed at the Gibbs Road location.

While construction takes place on a new Martinez Elementary on Flowing Wells Road, those pupils might move to Bel Air Elementary for a year.

Once both Evans and Martinez elementary schools open, by 2012 to 2014, Nagle said Bel Air Elementary would be shut down. Those pupils would be split between the larger Evans and Martinez schools. The Bel Air property, which is located on a growing commercial corridor in Evans, would then be sold.

Capacity at Evans and Martinez elementary schools would increase up to 1,000 pupils. Each currently takes nearly 470 pupils. The new schools would cost up to $12.5 million to build.

The final component of the first construction phase of the 2012-17 sales tax proposal includes building a new alternative school at its current site in Grovetown.

The $2.5 million project would allow for 24 classrooms, many of which also would be used for vocational studies with students attending from all area high schools.

The second construction phase of the project would include rebuilding North Columbia and North Harlem elementary schools at about $10.5 million each.

Phase three calls for the construction of a new Harlem Middle at $20 million and South Columbia Elementary at $10.5 million.

Other projects likely to be included in the sales tax referendum include upgrading athletic facilities, buying buses, upgrading auditoriums, roofing projects and paying off about $37 million in debt.

All of the projects are contingent upon state approval of the system's facility plan. Nagle said he hopes to get that approval by March.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115,

or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (20) Add comment
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csrawill
0
Points
csrawill 01/27/10 - 09:22 am
0
0
how about Stevens Creek

how about Stevens Creek Elementary? there is a rediculous amount of portables surrounding that school.

egan01
0
Points
egan01 01/27/10 - 09:33 am
0
0
Here we go again, spending

Here we go again, spending money the system does not have.

Jake
34085
Points
Jake 01/27/10 - 10:00 am
0
0
If you have a lot of students

If you have a lot of students then you obviously need more schools. What is wrong with that?

BobM
0
Points
BobM 01/27/10 - 10:04 am
0
0
The planning for new schools

The planning for new schools never hit the mark as they always underestimate growth. In Aiken county the when Mossy Creek opened it was overcrowded and portables were needed.

msgret92
121
Points
msgret92 01/27/10 - 03:53 pm
0
0
Columbia County needs to go

Columbia County needs to go back to an elected School Superintendent that is reportable to the taxpayers in the county. Government at all levels of Columbia County is out of control. Hopefully the voters will take the county back in the next round of elections. How much would it cost to run sewer lines to Columbia Middle and expand the current school,in comparison to building a new school?

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 01/27/10 - 11:13 am
0
0
They need to stop making
Unpublished

They need to stop making schools so small... build them big enough to house the projected increase in students to start with... If they don't want to build something too large, then at least design it to where it could be easily espanded.

corgimom
38476
Points
corgimom 01/27/10 - 12:00 pm
0
0
All the people that fled

All the people that fled Columbia County for "good schools"- isn't that why you moved there? But now you don't want to pay for them? Infrastructure costs a lot of money, and this is just the start.

UncleBill
6
Points
UncleBill 01/27/10 - 12:55 pm
0
0
Plan looks ok to me, and I

Plan looks ok to me, and I live in Col Co. What's the hullabaloo?

corgimom
38476
Points
corgimom 01/27/10 - 01:33 pm
0
0
"Other projects likely to be

"Other projects likely to be included in the sales tax referendum include upgrading athletic facilities"- that's going to be the part that really makes people angry.

Molleigh
0
Points
Molleigh 01/27/10 - 02:09 pm
0
0
The school system needs to

The school system needs to explain how the state allows new schools/classrooms to be built. The state formula always comes up short as it relates to true needs. That's why so many times a school is built and trailers are immediately needed. This is a real frustration for boards and administrators. They need to to a big PR campaign on this issue, esp. in this economy. Kudos to them for wanting to put the needs of kids on the front burner. Wish our governor would do the same for teachers!

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/27/10 - 02:17 pm
0
0
Better to have this in a

Better to have this in a sales tax than in a property tax!

soldout
1283
Points
soldout 01/27/10 - 04:15 pm
0
0
someone needs to figure a way

someone needs to figure a way to make education less expensive. I know everyone won't home school but I bet private enterprise could do it cheaper if there was competition for students. Indviduals settle for less than the best many times but government spending someone else's money will never do that.

createyourfuture
68
Points
createyourfuture 01/27/10 - 06:31 pm
0
0
In the state of Michigan,

In the state of Michigan, your child can go to any school you want them in, as long as you can get them there. Schools are a lot better; no one wants to lose enrollment.

Bryt
0
Points
Bryt 01/27/10 - 06:53 pm
0
0
Martinez Elementary was built

Martinez Elementary was built in 1962. They didn't do a major upgrade until 1990ish. If they would do smaller upgrades more frequently that's better than this major stuff every decade. Plus, no mention of working with the DOT to improve road conditions around the newer, larger schools. Flowing Wells desperately needs it!

AJ1
0
Points
AJ1 01/27/10 - 07:02 pm
0
0
I remember when a private

I remember when a private school I attended 40 years ago built a new wing onto the school that was two stories. The 2nd floor wasn't used for another 3 years and satisfied the growth needs for another 5. I sure would like to see more 2 story schools instead of the single story buildings with all those portables!

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 01/27/10 - 07:19 pm
0
0
Only High Schools can be two

Only High Schools can be two story due to fire regulations. Handicap access is expensive also. You have to have two elevators (at about 75k a piece) at least, more depending on size. Privatize the schools. Problem solved for the taxpayer.

HoosierDaddy
0
Points
HoosierDaddy 01/28/10 - 07:24 am
0
0
@csrawill : "how about

@csrawill : "how about Stevens Creek Elementary? there is a rediculous amount of portables surrounding that school."

Please, I think there is only about 4 or 5, and they are tiny. At least they're used for things like Spanish class and not because the school is overflowing with students. My understanding is that Stevens Creek is the only, if not one of the only, elementary schools in ColCo that teaches Spanish. I say keep the portables.

Riverman1
93754
Points
Riverman1 01/28/10 - 08:12 am
0
0
We need to be scaling down

We need to be scaling down because the money simply isn't there. It would be nice to have new schools and small classes, but we can't pay for it. Public education is not a constitutional right although we do what we can to provide it. The property tax is the means to pay for education. Tax revenue is down, so we resort to an end run by collecting sales tax. The economy is trying to tell us to scale back in all matters.

Unbelievable
88
Points
Unbelievable 01/28/10 - 08:13 am
0
0
They have trailers in

They have trailers in columbia county??? I thought there was an ordinance or something... :) I will hate to see Martinez Elementary get torn down. I went there and so did my brother, sister, aunt and dad.

whyme
2109
Points
whyme 01/28/10 - 12:31 pm
0
0
As I heard it reported, it

As I heard it reported, it would cost 8 million to fix CMS, but "only" 16 million to tear it down and build a new school...Hmmm. So the 8 million difference is no big deal? Furthermore, when they build these new schools, such as Evans Middle, why don't they anticipate growth? That's a brand new school and already it needs portables (not trailers, Unbelievable!), and is overcrowded. Don't bother to ask the school board for taxpayer input-on several occasions the reps have told on tv that they only asked because they had to but had no intention of acting on it (i.e. school calendars). I do hope they do something with the nutrition program-the food is awful! Ask the teachers as well as the students! My child got a plain baked potato at EHS at the end of the term-they had no condiments at all! Pizza without sauce sometimes...oh, that's right, they're saving money as well as trying to get our kids fit!

Bacon Grease
334
Points
Bacon Grease 01/28/10 - 12:37 pm
0
0
I went to BelAir in the first

I went to BelAir in the first grade, hate to see it razed but thats progress. Man I’m getting old.

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