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Richmond County Board of Education members tour schools, inspect construction projects

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Richmond County Board of Education building committee members scoured Sue Reynolds Elementary School’s eight new classrooms during their official project tour, looking everything over with a perfectionist’s eye.

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School board member Jimmy Atkins (right) asks a question before before the tour of Sue Reynolds Elementary.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
School board member Jimmy Atkins (right) asks a question before before the tour of Sue Reynolds Elementary.

They examined floors, desks and bathrooms. Anything out of the ordinary is noted - from windows that need caulking to creases in floor tile. No detail, minor or major, goes unnoticed.

It’s not as laid back as most property tours, but if you’re looking to give the final approval for a multi-million dollar public works project, laid back isn’t exactly your frame of mind.

“This is what we do with all of our building projects. We make something we call a punch list,” board member Jimmy Adkins said. “When we tour these things, there are a certain percentage of things that aren’t completed. We want to make sure we know what kind of work needs to be done before we give final approval.”

Board President Venus Cain, Superintendent Frank Roberson and three other board members received guided tours of construction projects at Sue Reynolds and John M. Tutt Middle School on Tuesday, a final inspection before announcing that the projects are fully approved for use.

The committee was guided through the buildings by the project manager and architect. Both projects were funded by money raised from the fourth iteration of the special purpose local option sales tax.

The Sue Reynolds project involved adding eight new classrooms to ease the school’s population growth, installing wireless Internet throughout the building and increasing school security. After a year’s worth of work, the project came in on budget at $2.5 million and was nearing completion three months ahead of schedule.

“It was primarily designed to help with the growth issues here,” Board Program Director Jeff Baker said. “We wanted to make sure this school could easily expand toward its max population. The extra classrooms will be able to help the school adapt as its population shifts.”

The committee also toured Tutt Middle for final approval of its ongoing projects. The outer facade has been replaced, along with the old administration building, a school wing, the roof and the gym’s floor. The project cost roughly $7.5 million, remaining at budget standards. It will be officially complete in three weeks, roughly a year ahead of schedule.

“This ended well before our deadline. It’s very impressive what the contractors have done with this school,” Baker said. “We could have seen new phases of construction on into next summer, but they got this done in roughly a year.”

Cain seemed particularly impressed by Tutt’s renovations, remarking on the “beautiful” aspects of the project as she toured.

“The building is just gorgeous now,” she said. “The staff and students here should be very happy to be able to work and learn in such a great building.”

Following both tours, the building committee voted to announce the projects are nearing completion during Thursday’s regular board meeting, and will be ready for use during the upcoming school year.

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