The Richmond County Board of Education is considering more than $130 million in improvement projects for local schools to be funded with the next round of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
The school board spent two hours Wednesday going over the preliminary list of projects and amounts of funds designated to each school, a draft prepared by the district’s construction consultant, Jeff Baker.
Because of the unpredictability of the economy over the next five years, Baker outlined a series of five major projects to be constructed first before the cost of materials might increase.
Those projects include $20 million to replace classroom wings and other improvements at Butler High School and using some of $15 million to replace wood-based buildings at the 50-year-old Murphey Middle School. Glenn Hills High School has $12 million allotted to renovate the baseball field, build a new gym and create Junior ROTC wings.
At the more than 60-year-old Lucy C. Laney High School, the preliminary SPLOST budget dedicates $20 million to replace classroom wings, build a new cafeteria and renovate the gym.
There is also $7 million budgeted to improve the front facade of Westside High School along with upgrading the cafeteria and replacing the roof and HVAC system.
“Let’s get aggressive and get those to the bid table and invest in the market,” Baker said.
The proposed projects are part of the fourth SPLOST phase, which is brought to voters every five years. School board attorney Pete Fletcher said he is attempting to add this SPLOST phase to the presidential primary ballot, which is still not set but is thought to take place in March.
To be added to the primary ballot, the school board must approve a final SPLOST list in early October.
It has been 15 years since voters approved the first SPLOST phase. Since then, the district has built new schools and renovated existing buildings using the 1-cent sales tax.
Despite $130 million designated for schools in the upcoming SPLOST round, there is actually more than $300 million in school improvement needs, Baker said.
Construction consultants had to narrow down the list of needs, and Baker said much of the focus was improving roofs andand the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, which Baker called “common sense dollars.”