After three years of planning and anticipation, the new Long County High School will open on schedule when the new school year kicks off Aug. 9.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters said that there will be an open house Aug. 8 for new students and their family members to see the new facilities and familiarize themselves with the school.
“It’s been a total team effort getting to this point, and I’m thankful that I’ve had a supportive board (of education) throughout the project, and also a supportive board now with the project coming to a close,” he said.
Waters said the new school will have 43 instructional classrooms and accommodate up to 850 students. Scotty Hattaway will be the principal at the new school, while Michael Taylor and Sherry Lester will be assistant principals. Waters said that the new school will have a state-of-the-art shop lab, where students will be taught plumbing, welding, construction and electrical work; and an agricultural lab, where they will be taught horticulture, forestry and farming. He also said there will be mounted projectors in the classrooms.
School system Chief of Staff Dr. Glenn Purcell said the new high school will have one pre-K classroom, where youngsters will be taught in conjunction with the Early Child Care Pathway class. He said that adjacent to the pre-K class will be a room with observation windows so high-school students can observe the teachers interacting with the pre-K students. He said that the high-school students will work with the pre-K children and assist with their instructional process.
“The Early Child Care Pathway program is kind of like a cadet program for teachers,” Purcell said. “By having it, we introduce students to the field of teaching, and hopefully we’re growing our own teachers for the future. It’s also great for the pre-K kids, because they get a tremendous amount of attention on what they’re learning in the classroom, too.”
Waters said everything that was offered at the old high school still will be available, but that all of it would be enhanced. Upgrades include a 1,500-seat gymnasium, a top-of-the-line weight room and a band room with sound-insulated individual rooms, terrazzo flooring, interior brick walls and a multi-level cafeteria/auditorium.
Waters said that the total cost of the school was approximately $19 million. Funding came from the state ($9 million), brigade reimbursed/remediation funding ($2.9 million), ESPLOST bond funding ($5 million) and capital outlay ($2.1 million). He said that when a new school is built, the taxpayers usually see an increase in their taxes, but the new high school was built without having to do that.
“I’m very proud of the fact no ad valorem increase had to be passed on to the taxpayers,” Waters said. “We were able to build this school by keeping our tax rate the same, and that is something that most school systems aren’t able to do when they take on building a new school.”
The superintendent also was pleased that several local contractors were used for the project.
Waters said that with the addition of the new school, the system has adequate room for all of its students, with a little room to spare. With the growth in Long County, however, he expects that there will be a need at some point for a new elementary school.
“There are a lot a variables that will affect how many students we have, so you never know what could happen in the future. We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.