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Laney will move into Tubman during renovations

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 9:13 PM
Last updated 9:15 PM
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About 150 alternative program students and 100 staff members will be uprooted from their Tubman Education Center on Walton Way in August to make room for Lucy C. Laney Comprehensive High School, which is relocating to the building while a two-year construction project takes place at Laney.

The Richmond County Board of Education approved the move Tuesday along with plans of how to deal with Murphey Middle and Butler High schools while extensive renovations also begin in the fall.

However most of the discussion and emotion surrounded the decision to move the alternative program and how that will impact morale for the already stigmatized campus.

“You’re taking people in their own, permanent building out and sending them somewhere else,” said board member Barbara Pulliam. “It’s like a neighbor coming in my house and saying ‘Get out while my house is being built.’”

Jeff Baker, a builder for Hanscomb GMK, a Columbia firm that is helping the district oversee its building projects, said moving the alternative program to the vacant Lamar Elementary School on Baker Avenue and housing Laney at Tubman Education Center is the most logical and cost effective option out of many considered.

Lamar, which will get some painting and refurbishing work this summer, has a capacity of about 400, enough to accommodate the alternative program but too small for Laney’s population of more than 600.

Tubman, with a capacity of about 700, can hold the technology and science labs needed for Laney’s various programs and still house Tubman’s Performance Learning Center students and the county’s String Orchestra, Baker said.

Because Laney’s new construction will take place in the middle of existing buildings, there is no safe way to keep all students on the campus in portables or other facilities, Baker said. Staff looked at housing the ninth grade academy in a nearby Georgia Regents University Medical Center parking lot and lowering enrollment for the rest of the student body, but Baker said that endeavor would cost more than $1 million.

“The students are going to be fine,” said Superintendent Frank Roberson. “They follow the temperature of the adults. If the adults are fine, the students are going to be fine. This is going to benefit the entire system. For that reason, I think the inconvenience is going to be temporary, but it’s going to improve the quality of Richmond County schools.”

Murphey and Butler students and staff will also have adjustments during their two-year renovations. While Murphey undergoes a $15 million building replacement and site improvements, students and staff will relocate to the old Tubman Middle School building on Bungalow Road, which is currently vacant. Because of Butler’s vast campus, students and staff will be able to stay on site during construction but will be isolated to the vocational buildings and portables while $20.8 million of renovations take place.

The projects are part of the fourth phase of the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax approved by voters in November. There are 37 projects in total, six major overhauls that will top $7 million and another 31 under $5 million.

While Butler, Laney and Murphey students and staff will have to put up with some inconvenience in exchange for pristine buildings, the several dozen staff members, teachers and parents from Tubman who attended Tuesday’s meeting said they’ve already paid their dues.

Tubman Education Center re-opened in 2011 after a three-year, $10 million makeover, which kept students and staff at another site until the project was completed.

Jorae Jenkins, a mentor who works at Tubman, said the morale of students and staff will suffer by being moved away from a school built specifically for them.

“They’re already stigmatized by being in the alternative school,” Jenkins said. “Now this is just another way they will feel like people don’t care.”

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tanbaby 05/15/13 - 04:14 am
"stigmatized by being in the

"stigmatized by being in the alternative school" ??? "they will feel like people don't care"???? the PEOPLE of Richmond County didn't put those kids there...they put THEMSELVES there by their actions and behavior in their respective "mainstream" school...

mrsbras 05/15/13 - 06:07 am
This move is about who you

This move is about who you know I agree with mrs Pulliam it's liked me being put out of my house to let her move in. Dr Roberson should be ashamed
Of himself for not standing up for those children. It's all personal against dr Frazier. Now what I do know is that the low grade mafia we have sitting down there at the board needs to go

nocnoc 05/15/13 - 06:08 am
This is a opportunity for

This is a opportunity for Good comments about what our B.O.E. is doing with the SPLOST.

Question though: who will be the principle while they are Tubman
and what happens to the other?

jmo 05/15/13 - 07:28 am
What did.....

mrsbras say?

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 05/15/13 - 09:39 am

We have so many "penny" sales taxes going to different things that we cannot keep up with them. This past November (2012) we had the transportation sales tax. Of course, I voted against it, but it indeed did pass in the multi-county region. There was no education special purpose local option sales tax on the 2012 ballot, but I'm sure it was passed on some ballot initiative in the past.

It would be helpful if Ms. McManus would do some research and let us know what year the current education SPLOST was passed by voters. I hope when it comes up for renewal that voters will say ENOUGH and vote the thing down.

mrsbras 05/15/13 - 01:56 pm
I said dr Roberson should be

I said dr Roberson should be ashamed I never thought this man would let the low grade mafia board members corrupt him I also have said in the past if he thought he couldn't do the job he would step down but I guess I have to eat those words too. He is in the middle of his review and he is doing everything he can to keep his job last first I check the street committee said the vote was 5-5 now they 6-4 for him to go let's see what happen in June.

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