School board members voiced concern Tuesday about going ahead with the fall 2010 opening of a new middle school on Fort Stewart.
In fear of not making the tight deadline, the Liberty County Board of Education passed a motion at its March meeting to postpone the selection of an architect for construction of the school. Board members will make a decision by the March 31 work session.
The 2010 date was set in an effort to accommodate a wave of soldiers and their families coming to Fort Stewart with the 5th brigade.
And Fort Stewart officials say the original date should stand.
“Yes, Fort Stewart remains committed to work with the Liberty County Schools and the state of Georgia to see that all required actions are taken to ensure a August 2010 opening of the new middle school,” deputy garrison commander Mike Biering said, adding he had not heard of any planned changes.
He was contacted after the meeting and said schools are important aspects to the Army’s commitment to the quality of life for soldiers and their families.
Although once in agreement, the board is now considering postponing the opening for a year, after considering the logistics of the construction and speaking with potential architects.
“I can’t foresee this happening,” board member Marcia Anderson said about the school being ready to open on time.
Representatives from BRPH architects, who are now the boards’ top choice for the project, said the timeline is tight but that on paper it can be done.
BRPH representative Scott Gordon also told the board that while they’d try their best to get the project completed on time, they couldn’t guarantee it due to a variety of impediments that could arise.
He said the average time to build a school is 18-24 months.
“We’ll have to be aggressive and make quick decisions,” he said.
After speaking with the architects, at least half of the board members said they weren’t ready to start drafting contracts with the architects or to declare an opening date.
“We need to be comfortable,” board member Verdell Jones said.
Because the final date is still undecided, Superintendent Judy Scherer is unsure how the decision will affect the extra military families coming into the county.
“We are in constant discussion with the individuals at Fort Stewart regarding the timeline for construction of the school and all of the issues involved. We will finalize the timeline and opening date once an architect is determined, construction manager hired, lease signed, etc.,” Scherer said. “I would like to open the school in the fall of 2010, but it is more important to do it right than to do it quickly.”