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Long reworking plan for school makeover

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POSTED: November 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Dr. Robert Waters

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LUDOWICI — The Long County Board of Education decided at its October meeting, to nix the idea of building a combined elementary/middle school and instead is looking at the possibility of building a new high school.
According to Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters, the original plan was to build third-eighth grade combination school, which would share a cafeteria, media center and administrative areas.  Once that was completed, the county would have the combination school and the high school.
The new plan, however, would be to consider building a new high school adjacent to Smiley Elementary and renovating Walker Middle and the present high school.
Waters said Smiley, which now holds grades K-3, would then only have K-2. WMS, which currently holds grades 4-8, would then become an elementary school for grades 3-5, and the current high school would only have grades 6-8.
“The old plan would be fine, if it was available now, but by the time it is built, we would have to have portables on the grounds with the new school, and I just couldn’t see that,” Waters said.
“With this proposed plan, we are giving Smiley the space of one additional grade to grow into, and at Walker the space for two grades to grow and one grade to grow at the current high school.”
The superintendent said conditions at Walker are better than expected.
“The facilities are in better shape than perceived,” he said. “I took the board on a tour of the facilities and showed them the areas which needed to be addressed, but they structurally are in good shape, and with some remodeling, it would be a very nice school.”
Waters said another reason he recommends changing the plans was due to the cost of building the combined school.
“The proposed plan was going to be over budget at least $2.5 million, and could have been as high as $3.6 million over. I just couldn’t in good faith make the recommendation to go with this plan, knowing it wouldn’t allow for growth and the money wasn’t there.  
He said he worked up the recommendation with the architect working with the plans and a facilitates representative from the Georgia Department of Education.
Waters said the new high school could possibly be opened for the 2011-12 school year.
 

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