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Long BoE gets report on new high school
All Long County schools met AYP
web 0828 Dr. Robert Waters
Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters

The Long County Board of Education received reports on the planned high school and the preliminary Adequate Yearly Progress results Tuesday at a called workshop.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters reported to the board that the initial estimates for building a new high school were higher than expected. As a result, he recommended making several cuts. 

Waters said that even though his recommendations would cut more than $1 million from the proposed figures, the cuts primarily were upgrades initially proposed but not necessarily needed.

The superintendent said the initial estimate to build the high school was $17,613,407.

“We can’t afford that,” Waters said. “I asked Craig (Buckley, who is the designer) to make some cuts, but not to make them where we lost what we wanted out of the school.”

The superintendent went through the proposed cuts line by line with the board members. Some of the cuts included reducing the landscaping allowance, lowering the common area’s roof, eliminating some interior brickwork and changing the type of doors at the school. 

After going through the list, Waters said that if the board approved the changes, it would cut the project by $1,228,120, bringing the estimated cost to $16,385,287.

The superintendent said the project money would be obtained from the local capital outlay fund, bond proceeds from ESPLOST, Georgia Department of Education capital outlay funding and remediation funding from the canceled 5th brigade.

After a brief discussion, the board approved the cuts.

Waters also told the board that the tentative schedule has the site work being advertised for bids in early September and the contract being awarded sometime in October. 

The superintendent said that the proposed draft is 90 percent complete. When the state approves it, he said, a meeting would be scheduled in Ludowici so local contractors could bid on the project.

Assistant Superintendent/Curriculum Director Dr. Glenn Purcell gave a report on the recent release of the preliminary AYP results, which confirm that all Long County schools met AYP standards.

He said this was the ninth year in a row that Smiley Elementary School made the cut and the seventh consecutive year for Walker Middle School.

He added that Long County High School bounced back from not meeting the mark last year. Purcell said the achievement was significant because it eliminated the possibility of LCHS being identified as a “needs improvement high school.”

He said that only 30 percent of the high schools in Georgia made AYP standards, and only 63 percent of all the schools met the standards.

Purcell told the board that some of the highlights from the report showed that absenteeism had decreased at Smiley Elementary and Walker Middle. The middle school rate had dropped from 14 percent to 4.8 percent, which he said was significant.

Purcell said the high school stood out on the science graduation test with a 95 percent pass rate, the fourth best rate in the district.

Despite the good report, Purcell said it will continue to be difficult to meet the AYP standards as they climb. He said it especially would be difficult for the high school as the required graduation rate climbs from 85 percent in 2011 to 90 percent for 2012.

Purcell said he doesn’t know what the AYP standards will be in the future due to changes in the system.

“We don’t know how AYP will be determined with changes in the EOCT (end-of-course test) and graduation test requirements,” he said. “Right now, the state and the federal government are figuring this out.”

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