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Officials explain alternative school move to residents

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Columbia County School System officials met little opposition Thursday as they explained to residents the possible relocation of the Columbia County Alternative School.

About 10 residents attended the meeting at Evans Elementary School, where the alternative school is scheduled to move.

“The alternative school is not something to be feared,” said Meryl Alalof, who started the school in 1995 and was its first principal.

The proposal to move the school from the Johns Building, which is next door to Grovetown Elementary School, is intended to make use of Evans Elementary, which will be vacant next year, officials said. The Johns Building, which has housed the alternative school for the past six years, is in disrepair and will be condemned.

At Evans Elementary, students would have access to a cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium.

It would cost about $3 million to replace the school, Superintendent Charlie Nagle said, but the Evans Elementary property wouldn’t sell for a quarter of that.

The school can accept up to 120 middle and high school students who have violated the system’s code of conduct, but have not committed criminal acts, Nagle said.

“We probably have the safest school, I feel, in Columbia County,” alternative school principal Dr. Ja’net Bishop said. The school has stricter rules and security than other county high schools.

Residents were concerned about students wandering away from school, which Nagle said has never happened. A resident of adjacent Walnut Grove was assured of continued access to the property to use the track.

“You did a great job explaining it,” Country Place resident Ka-Cee Vaughn said. “I just wanted to know what the school is all about.

“I’m glad to know the school can be used for something. We don’t want it sitting empty. It’s another empty building in Columbia County.”

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