Originally created 07/14/01

Group starts planning next school upgrades

Richmond County school Superintendent Charles Larke and members of Altman Architectural Group toured Wilkinson Garden Elementary School on Thursday morning, collecting information on what kind of improvements the school and others like it will need in the next five years.

It's all part of the summerlong planning for Phase II of the Richmond County Board of Education's school infrastructure plan.

Phase I, which was completed this summer, began five years ago. It saw 47 projects completed, including the opening of several new elementary schools Craig-Houghton, Sue Reynolds, Hephzibah and Jenkins-White; a new high school (Cross Creek); new libraries; refurbished gym floors; and new athletic stadiums.

The 47 projects came in under the $115 million budgeted.

Phase II, school officials say, likely will be a combination of renovating some schools, such as Wilkinson Gardens, and building new ones.

"It's going to be quite an operation - challenging, exciting," said Donald Altman, the president of Altman Architecture Group, the company selected to redesign Wilkinson Gardens.

Dr. Larke said classes will not be interrupted because construction will go on around the school schedule.

"The planning team is now looking at all the schools, assessing our needs," Dr. Larke said. "Hopefully, we can get Phase II done in four years rather than five."

Once the list of projects is created, Dr. Larke said, the board of education will review it and put it on a November ballot for voters to decide whether to approve the Phase II bond.

No monetary figure has been given yet, but school officials say it will likely be around $100 million.

Reach Justin Martin at (706) 823-3552.


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