This school year will be a busy one, not only for what occurs in the classroom but also for the work that takes place on the school buildings.
In Richmond County, several school-construction projects are being wrapped up this year, and designs are far along on the final three projects slated for the county's current sales tax program, which ends next year.
"You have a series of renovations and additions that will close out as the year finishes," said Jeff Baker, of Hanscomb GMK, a firm assisting with the school projects.
Some of the projects under construction and scheduled to be completed this year in Richmond County are: East Augusta Middle School renovations and additions, to be completed in September; a transportation relocation project, to end in September; gym, HVAC and facade work at Westside High, to be finished in October; Academy of Richmond County renovations and additions, to be completed in October; National Hills Elementary renovations and additions, to be finished in December; a new Laney gym scheduled for completion in January; and a new Garrett Elementary, to be finished by March.
As for the final projects in the county's current sales tax program, a new Milledge Elementary recently received final design approval from the state; a new vocational magnet high school has had its design completed and is awaiting state approval; and a new Hains Elementary has had its site approved by the state, with the design process under way.
In Columbia County, one school construction project already is under way and another is scheduled to start this school year.
A new elementary school on Baker Place Road is about three weeks ahead of schedule, school system Director of Facilities and Maintenance Tim Beatty said.
The 51-room school, which is the first with a new T-shaped floor plan, will relieve overcrowding at Cedar Ridge and Lewiston elementary schools.
Construction on the $12 million school, which doesn't yet have a name, should be finished by June, Beatty said. It is to open in August 2011.
A year after the elementary opens, a new Columbia Middle School will be unveiled. Funds for the new school were approved by voters in the June primary as part of a $130 million, 1-percent sales tax referendum.
Also approved was a $45 million bond referendum, with about $20 million earmarked for Columbia Middle construction. School officials are negotiating for property on Columbia Road.
If that goes well, Beatty expects to start site work by January and for construction to start in May.
The larger, replacement school will use the same two-story floor plan as Stallings Island Middle School, Beatty said.
The only other Columbia County projects under way are roof replacements at Stevens Creek and Riverside elementary schools. Beatty said those projects should be completed by October.
After a failed school bond referendum in May, the Aiken County School District is back to square one and revamping its five-year facility-needs study.
The district receives about $13 million each year in revenue for new facilities and maintenance.
Before the referendum went to a vote, community members of the six schools scheduled for upgrades asked school board members to find ways to upgrade some facilities, such as restrooms, handicap-accessible ramps and older cafeterias and lunchrooms.
Reach Preston Sparks, Donnie Fetter or Julia Sellers at (706) 724-0851.