Board will discuss plans for new high school at meeting

Details of Columbia County's next high school - its first in more than a decade - are likely to be discussed at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Associate Superintendent Charles Nagle said he expects the new school, which will feature a three-tiered, split-level design, to have an enrollment of 1,250 to 1,500 students when it opens in 2009. He also said administrators will recommend a contractor for the site development work at the Chamblin Road property to the board.

The county is in the middle of another mild growth boom with construction under way for new middle and elementary schools, along with two school expansions.

Only in fast-growing Columbia County could a system in the midst of five construction projects be considered taking "a little breather," but that was the assessment of Tim Beatty, the county's facilities director.

"Typically, we've had a new school and some additions going on. And we've also had some roofing projects as well," he said.

This year, Mr. Beatty said, there is no roofing work.

He said construction of the $10 million Cedar Ridge Elementary School, which should open in August, is on schedule. He also said the new additions at Lewiston and River Ridge elementary schools, which will cost about $1 million each, should be ready by the time school starts.

"Our middle school is on schedule," Mr. Nagle said. "I would feel more comfortable if we were a little further along with the high school."

He said the school system has budgeted $18 million in local funds for the 230,000-square-foot high school.

He also said the state will provide $15 million in advanced funding for the facility.

Mr. Nagle anticipates the new $17.7 million middle school on Blackstone Camp Road - the county's only two-story school - will have 700 to 800 students when it opens next year.

Mr. Nagle said he did not think the intensive construction program would one day leave the system with empty buildings.

"The smaller mandated class size puts a tremendous burden on your facilities," he said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.