Columbia County school board approves bid for middle school

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The Columbia County school board approved a nearly $15 million bid Tuesday to build a new Columbia Middle School.

McDonald Construction, based in Vidalia, Ga., won the bid and likely will start construction after site work concludes.

Work clearing the site on William Few Parkway started this year. The board spent about $1.1 million in October to purchase six parcels near Grovetown High for the new school to replace the more than 50-year-old school on Columbia Road.

School officials said the floor plan for the new school will be similar to the two-story Stallings Island Middle School in Martinez.

The replacement school is part of a $188 million 1-percent sales tax package voters approved in July 2010.

Work already is under way to construct a new Evans Elementary near the current school on Gibbs Road.

Once it and Columbia Middle open in August 2013, work likely will start on a new Martinez Elementary. Unlike the other schools, Martinez Elementary will be rebuilt at its current site.

Superintendent Charles Nagle said pupils zoned for Martinez Elementary will temporarily move to Bel Air Elementary. Construction crews then will raze the current school and build a larger one, costing about $12.5 million, in its place.

After the new Martinez Elementary opens in August 2014, pupils at Bel Air Elementary will be rezoned for Martinez and Evans elementary schools.

School officials intend to close Bel Air Elementary but don’t know yet what will become of that property, which is located on a commercial corridor along North Belair Road.

Also at the meeting, the board named Lance Poss the new director of public safety for the school system, effective July 1.

After working as a Columbia County sheriff’s deputy, Poss joined the school system public safety office 16 years ago. He primarily patrolled Evans High and surrounding schools.

Poss replaces Robert “Buddy” Hendry, who died last month following a battle with lung cancer. Nagle told the board that Poss was Hendry’s choice to replace him as public safety director.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222


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