Greene light for GCHS improvements

By Mark Engel

engel@lakeoconeenews.us

 

The Greene County Board of Education Tuesday night voted to move forward with Phase 2 of renovations and improvements to Greene County High School.

The original bid for $3,880,000 from Kevin Price Construction was whacked by more than $1.15-million when commissioners voted 3-2 to eliminate some of the planned changes.

Work will begin as soon as the students leave for summer break and is expected to be completed by December 31.  Improvements will include restroom renovations, new lights, flooring, drinking fountains and paint, new ADA compliant signage, as well as renovations of the commons area and the media center.

The county plans to use less than $3-million in ESPLOST funds to pay for the revised Phase 2 improvements. 

During public comments, Todd Ciavola, chairman of the ESPLOST Oversight Committee, urged commissioners to table the project until the Board approves a strategic plan for the College and Career Academy. 

“The taxpayers were told by the board,” he said, “that the paying tax was going to be used to improve the educational experience for the students with a focus on the Career Academy.  The proposed high school renovation plan does not appear to be focusing on the Career Academy, rather on deferred maintenance and cosmetic upgrades.”

Board members John Heinen (Dist. 4) and Joe Bashore (Dist. 2) joined Chairman Mike Lynch in cutting out construction of a new entrance to the building, improvements to the façade including a large digital sign, construction of cross corridors that would have improved movement through the building and renovation of four classrooms designated for use as part of the College and Career Academy.

Those changes could be implemented in a Phase 3 project that would utilize as much as $3-million in state money if the county’s application for a grant for a new College and Career Academy is approved.  That funding would not be available until after January 1.

Also, at Tuesday night’s meeting, the Board voted to accept a state supervised study of school facilities in Greene County. School administrators from five surrounding counties toured the county and developed a list of recommended changes as part of a 5-year plan.  The school board is under no obligation to make the changes but in accepting the plan, the county qualifies for $2.3-million in state funds that can be used to improve Carson Middle School and Union Point Steam Academy.  The Board will develop its own facilities plan later in the year as part of the strategic planning process.

Board members were also updated on the Lake Oconee Academy conflict with the Georgia Department of Education over the school’s practice of allowing out-of-county residents to participate in the lottery selection process. Applicants are only required to establish residency in Greene County if they are chosen for a slot at LOA, which the DOE says is a violation of the school’s charter with the Board of Education.

 

 

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