Schools want 5-year facility study

Columbia County school officials have built four schools during the past five years, and they intend to start planning soon for more construction in the next five years.


The school board recently passed a resolution that asks the state Board of Education to conduct a mandatory five-year facility study for Columbia County. The study will set the construction agenda for the school system from 2010 to 2015.

"They (state officials) form a committee of people outside the school system, five members, to review our plan and visit schools and decide what they think the plan for the future should be," Tim Beatty, the school system's director of facilities, maintenance and operations, said.

The first step, Mr. Beatty said, is for he and other school officials to determine what they believe their facility needs will be in the next five years.

"We haven't sat down yet to take a look at what we need to do in the next five years," he said. "We'll have to do that between now and the time the facility study is conducted."

Typically, Mr. Beatty said, those studies are held in April.

The 2005 facility study signed off on the construction of River Ridge Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary, Stallings Island Middle, Grovetown High, and a new elementary school near Grovetown High that currently is in the planning stages.

The land and construction costs for those schools topped $80.2 million with about $25.1 million coming from the state, according to school system records. The remainder of the construction costs was funded using local sources, such as the 1-cent sales tax.

Mr. Beatty estimates the cost to build a new elementary school off Baker Place Road at $8 million.

In addition to guiding area school officials on construction needs, the facility study likely will be used to help develop a new penny sales tax referendum to appear before voters in the November 2010 general election, Mr. Beatty said.

Sales tax dollars also are used to renovate aging schools.

"Probably in the next month we'll bring an architect on board to look at any of our facilities over 20 years of age," Mr. Beatty said.

Primarily though, the bulk of sales tax dollars are needed for new school construction.

"I'm sure there will be a need for more schools during that time frame," Mr. Beatty said. "It will depend on growth, and our area is still growing."

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


SchoolCostLocal fundingState Funding
River Ridge Elementary$9.4 million$5.8 million$3.6 million
Cedar Ridge Elementary$10.3 million$10.3 million$0
Stallings Island Middle$20.7 million$14.9 million$5.8 million
Grovetown High$39.8 million$24.1 million$15.7 million
Total$80.2 million$55.1 million$25.1 million