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15 Richmond County school construction projects could begin in 2013

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The Richmond County Board of Education proposed beginning 15 school construction projects in 2013, an undertaking that helps complete expensive projects during an advantageous money market.

On Saturday morning, the second and final day of the board’s retreat, Jeff Baker, the program director for the school system’s building program, presented a tentative schedule for 38 school capital improvement projects using a 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax approved by voters March 6.

The first 15 projects would use 72 percent of the $130 million in tax money, Baker said. The three most costly projects are upgrades to Butler and Laney high schools and Murphey Middle Charter School.

“We are in this phase attempting to be much more aggressive than we have been in previous phases to get as much work to the streets as quickly as possible because, as we talked about before, we have market conditions that are to our advantage,” Baker said.

After planning and design, construction could begin in June 2013. Design for three more tiers of less urgent projects would begin in January 2013, January 2014 and September 2014.

The board voted unanimously to approve the schedule after making some modifications to Baker’s original proposal. Construction of an ROTC building at Cross Creek High School was moved up as well as adding classrooms at A.R. Johnson.

Other schools in the first construction year include Copeland and Lake Forest Hills elementary schools, Tutt and Langford middle schools and Glenn Hills and Westside high schools. Additionally, former school buildings of Davidson, Forest Hills and A.C. Griggs could be demolished as early as this summer.

The board said they would contact the city, historic preservation groups and a potential buyer to determine whether there was any serious interest in refurbishing the Davidson school building on Telfair Street.

Also at the retreat, the board created evaluation criteria for Acting Superintendent James Whitson. Whitson has been leading the district since February 2011, when Frank Roberson underwent emergency brain surgery.

After input from Whitson and agreement from Rober­son, who works three days a week and was at the retreat, the board established three grading points: student achievement, including Race to the Top initiatives, implementation of a new waiver process for No Child Left Behind and accreditation processes; financial handling under tightened budgets and layoffs; and his communication with the public and the board.

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 03/24/12 - 04:57 pm
Unfortunately for the many

Unfortunately for the many poor and minority RCSS kids who read, compute and write well below grade-level, "good schools" to a sizeable minority, if not a majority of, grown folks in Richmond County means new school buildings; winning athletic programs; fancy, new high school band uniforms; and no new taxes.

countyman 03/24/12 - 05:01 pm
Please wait until the last

Please wait until the last moment possible to demolish the former Davidson building.. I'm hoping somebody can turn the property into an mix-use component of residential, retail, and maybe office..

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/24/12 - 07:32 pm
Sorry, countyman, but your

Sorry, countyman, but your dream has turned into an hallucination. The building has been destroyed by the homeless and the crackheads stealing the wiring and the plumbing (not to mention the fires set for warming). It has been damaged beyond repair by the leaking roof. The old Davidson school is the textbook example of the way governments take care of their surplus properties.

The correct way for governments to take care of their surplus properties is to sell them off to private interests as soon as possible when they are no longer needed. The longer you wait, the lower the value.

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