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BoE putting off on-post school construction
Dr. Cheryl Conley
Dr. Cheryl Conley
The Liberty County Board of Education decided yesterday to halt construction of a new middle school on Fort Stewart, a project surrounded by uncertainties since the start.
“The main thing was just looking at the funding and the enrollment numbers,” Dr. Cheryl Conley, deputy superintendent of Liberty County schools, said. “We’ve been declining (in enrollment) for the past five years and we have to account for the individual unit numbers which determine our funding.”
Conley said with the state budget being extremely tight, funding was a major factor.
She said after receiving and analyzing data from numerous entities, including the state department of education, the BoE decided to finish pre-construction phases, but not start any construction.
“They didn’t just stop the whole project, they postponed it,” Conley said. “If we see the numbers go back up then we’ll revisit it. This project has been stopped at a point where we can pick it up again.”
She said pre-construction efforts, including final drawings and sketches as well as lease negotiations with the Army Corp of Engineers, will continue. But that’s as far as the project will go for now.
Conley estimated the board has spent right under $150,000 on pre-construction, plus hiring BRPH in March to manage the project.
Officials with Fort Stewart said they appreciate the cooperation between the post and the board and are still interested in the project.
“From our perspective the school is very necessary and we’re developing a further answer. But we feel we need the school,” Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said.
The board made the decision during a work session on Tuesday and Conley said the issue came up during discussion.
As of right now, she’s unsure when construction could be restarted.
“It’s based on numbers,” she said. “Based on what we have right now we don’t see any increase in enrollment in the near future.”
Conley said project contractors have been notified and understand the situation
“Gilbane and BRH have been very understanding and we’re very pleased with their cooperation,” she said.
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