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School renovations await decision on moving students

Thursday, April 25, 2013 7:30 PM
Last updated Friday, April 26, 2013 12:06 AM
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The first steps for multimillion-dollar renovations are planned to begin this summer at three Rich­mond Coun­ty schools, but the upgrades could mean years of relocation for hundreds of students.

District officials are determining where to move Laney High, Butler High and Mur­phey Middle school students so construction can begin on their campuses in the fall.

Board of Education Presi­dent Venus Cain said that after the facilities department staff presents the best plan, the board will vote on the arrangements.

“The sooner we can do it, the better,” Cain said.

Benton Starks, the senior director of facilities and maintenance, said that during campus renovations, officials can choose to keep the students and staffers in place and work around them, build temporary facilities on or near the campus, or move the school population to another site.

The old Tubman Middle School on Bungalow Road and Lamar Ele­mentary School are vacant and available for use. Starks said some officials have considered using the Tub­man Education Center on Walton Way to house Laney’s student and staffers and moving Tubman’s to another site.

“There’s a plethora of options we have to sort through,” Starks said.

No bids have yet been awarded for the projects, but Starks said he hopes to have the demolition and abatement phases completed in the summer to begin construction.

Those three projects – costing about $55 million – and more than 30 other construction projects across the district are being funded by Phase IV of the 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax approved by Richmond County voters. The more than 13 Tier I projects are in the early stages and have not broken ground.

Butler is set to have a $20 million makeover, including new classrooms; cafeteria and media center renovations; and band, choral and stadium upgrades. The $20 million project at Laney will replace classrooms and renovate the cafeteria and gym. Murphey Middle will have its entire building replaced for $15 million. All projects could take at least two years to complete.

Though it is inconvenient to relocate three schools simultaneously, board member Jack Padgett said it is the most cost-effective way to complete projects quickly while market prices are optimal.

“The quicker we bid these buildings with the economy in the shape it is now, we’d be saving millions of dollars on almost every project,” he said. “That’s the rush to get them out and get them done.”

Padgett and board member Jimmy Atkins said that they’d rather not see Tubman Edu­ca­tion Center students and staffers uprooted to make room for Laney or Butler but that they’d like to review all options.

“It makes no sense to me to uproot kids from (Tubman) and move them to another,” Atkins said. “We remodeled Tub­man to accommodate the alternative center for a reason.”

Padgett said Butler’s vast campus could allow for portable classrooms there, but Murphey’s smaller property would make that difficult.

Board members were expected to discuss and vote on arrangements at its spring retreat today and Saturday, but the retreat was canceled and has yet to be rescheduled.

“We just have to see what our options are,” Atkins said. “The bottom line is whatever is going to be the most cost-
effective for the school system and best for the kids involved is what we should do.”


The sales tax project list includes more than $130 million in renovations at about 35 Richmond County schools. Most of the projects in the first tier of the schedule are in the early stages with preliminary designs being submitted to the state for review. The projects include:

BUTLER HIGH SCHOOL: $20.8 million for replacement of existing classroom facilities; new kitchen/cafeteria renovations; renovation of media center; band and choral, stadium upgrades; fieldhouse and site circulation upgrades.

LANEY HIGH SCHOOL: $20 million for classroom replacements; new kitchen cafeteria renovations; light renovation of remaining classrooms; miscellaneous renovations to gym and site circulation upgrades.

MURPHEY MIDDLE SCHOOL: $15 million for building replacement; replacement of wood structure buildings, restroom renovations and site improvements.

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JENNPAT 04/26/13 - 09:04 am
what fun they will have

trying to figure this one out.that is a lots of students to place all i can say is good luck.and why is it theses school always need to renovations?,when i went to school you never heard of school having to be done over all the time i guess they have to spend the money some where Murphy school has not been that long done over they need to put more money in educating these students and paying the teacher more money for what they have to put up with from students

XXYY 04/26/13 - 10:29 am
I'm just curious

has anyone ever thought of combining all the high schools and having one big Richmond County School? They can have a Senior & Junior campus and Sophmore & Freshman campus. Pool all your resources at those two sites.

jamc1103 04/26/13 - 11:31 am
I don't think that would work xxyy...

For one those would be two very large schools. Two, think about the transportation issues that would cause for a lot of people. Richmond County isn't that small. It would take too long to bus kids to and from school.

Darby 04/26/13 - 03:42 pm
"has anyone ever thought of

combining all the high schools and having one big Richmond County School?"

Given that a lot of thought, have you?

Underdog840 04/26/13 - 10:50 pm
This is totally outrageous.

This is totally outrageous. Tubman Education Center should not be moved. If anyone should be moved it should be Laney. Why are you disrupting another school that is already in place? Tubman Education Center should not be placed near ARC. This gives kids opportunities to go and disrupt a regular school setting. Both of these schools starts and end at the same time. This is heading for a disaster. Tubman Education Center should not be near any regular school settings. Have the Board Members forgotten that these kids should not be placed near any zone schools? Doesn't it seem more logical to move one school instead of two? The Board is continuing to furlough teachers but always complaining about how they don't have money. I question that. I think it is very unfair to the students and staff at Alternative School. I believe that Murphy Middle should be placed at Lamar Elementary instead of any high school. This will prevent any future problems between schools. Please think about the choices you are making for our children.
Fed Up Taxpayer

soapy_725 04/27/13 - 08:43 am
Murphey, Its Murphey Middle Charter School

It was named after Ms. Murphey. Not Dale Murphy.

There is always money for new construction. No money for maintenance. Do you live on the moon? The ARC of No Covenant always has construction money and the friends/relatives to do the construction. This frenzy of "kingdom building" is just another part of the concern for too much government spending.

Progress is concrete, steel, asphalt and the concentration of the masses. It worked in Sodom and Gomorrah. It worked for the Biblical rich man who could not more barns fast enough.

The native Americans were correct on many levels. But their greatest insight was, "government speaks with forked tongue". And they had not even been introduced to SATAN.

avidreader 04/27/13 - 08:57 am

What an aggressive plan! I smell a big mess!

saltine 04/27/13 - 09:54 am
Head of Class

Sounds like ,Dr.Azziz is in on this one

Reverie 05/04/13 - 05:58 pm
millions of dollars

They keep spending millions and millions of dollars on these "improvements" but continue to force more and more furlough days to cut teacher salaries. They say, "Quit complaining, you're lucky to even have a teaching job!" They should take a salary cut.

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