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Columbia County's school plan is adopted

Panel adopts 5-year facility plan

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The Columbia County school board on Tuesday formally adopted a new five-year facility plan under which at least four schools would be rebuilt and another closed.

The plan, recently approved by Georgia education officials, calls for larger versions of Columbia Middle, Evans Elementary, Martinez Elementary and the system's alternative school in Grovetown.

Once construction of Evans and Martinez elementary schools concludes, system officials would close Bel Air Elementary and move those pupils to the newer schools.

Meeting many of the steps called for in the plan will require voter approval for continuation of the 1-percent sales tax.

The referendum will appear before voters July 20.

Depending on how much is raised by the sales tax, should voters approve it, officials also might rebuild North Harlem Elementary, North Columbia Elementary, South Columbia Elementary and Harlem Middle schools.

Officials are projecting as much as $148.6 million from the tax.

If it is approved, they likely will start looking to sell bonds so work can start on a new Columbia Middle.

Among other items likely to be included in the sales tax referendum are upgrades to athletics facilities, bus purchases, upgrades to auditoriums, roofing projects and retirement of about $37 million in debt.

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