A proposed master plan for Liberty County elementary schools identified Jordye Bacon and Button Gwinnett as schools with immediate renovation or construction needs, but the Liberty County Board of Education has yet to take action.
BRPH architect Barry Sallas and consultant Fran Pickett presented an overview to the Liberty County Board of Education during a recent work session.
Chairwoman Lily Baker later said the board will likely address the issue in the next 60 days.
“We need to look at our money, and we needs to look at what needs to be done first …” Baker said. “We know that our older schools need some work, but we also need to see if it is more feasible to keep patching or to rebuild.”
The plan was compiled with assessments of each campus, feedback from administrators and a look at state and local construction requirements for schools, Sallas said.
“In my mind, these two need immediate attention, especially in the food service areas,” Sallas said. “Subsequent to that, the restrooms need to be addressed at both of these schools as well. There are ADA issues as well as some fixtures that are in very bad shape.”
The district’s oldest school is Jordye Bacon, which was built in 1964 and has had subsequent additions and renovations. It has 40 instructional units and a student capacity of 550.
Its open campus weakens security because people are able to get to classrooms undetected, unlike schools that have a single entrance next to an office.
In the office area, Sallas said there are tight turns that complicate deliveries.
Food service operations are complicated by a lack of space for storage and operations, so the staff has a maze-like set-up that inhibits flow, he said.
Restroom upgrades are needed to bring the building into compliance with handicapped access guidelines. There also are age-related problems with the school’s HVAC and ventilation systems that result in humidity issues.
Options to remedy the issues include a multi-phase renovation or razing and reconstructing new buildings on the campus.
Sallas proposed a renovation where the first phase would address the office and cafeteria. Rough estimates for razing and reconstructing a cafeteria-auditorium were $440,000 for kitchen work, $170,000 for cafetorium and $150,000 for site access improvements. The next phase would cost an estimated $120,000 to close the breezeway next to the office to ease delivery and security issues.
The board will have about $8.5 million for capital projects during the 2013 fiscal year, according to Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services.
“Do we ever get to a point that you say, ‘We’re just patching too much, and the school is too old, and we need to just start over?” board member Becky Carter asked.
“The question becomes being good stewards of the money. Is there good value in the building?” Rogers said, adding that some newer buildings at JBE have more value than the older ones.
“By the time you’re all said and done at Jordye Bacon … you’re probably in the $3- to $4-million range,” he said. “A new school is going to run you … probably in the $10 million range. That’s the kind of difference you’re talking about.”
In contrast, Button Gwinnett requires the most expensive overhaul, with work that would come close to $6 million. The school was built in 1979 and has 42 instructional units with an enrollment capacity of 550.
It has similar security issues as well as major noise control problems in a central space, where the media center is open to the cafeteria with an overhead reading nook, Sallas said. BGE also has HVAC problems, needs handicap upgrades in the restrooms and a new kitchen.
Estimates for renovation run $440,000 in the kitchen, $170,000 in the cafeteria and $100,000 for site access improvements.
“Button Gwinnett is probably the most extensive renovation needed,” Sallas said.