The Long County Board of Education saw for the first time the proposed site plans for a new third- through eighth-grade combination school during its meeting Monday.
Long County School System Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters gave the PowerPoint presentation to board members highlighting the planned structure, but also showing where it has the capability for additional growth.
Waters said the structure will have two facilities, with one school accommodating grades three through five, and the other for grades six through eight.
There will be classroom space for 1,900 students and the two schools will share a cafeteria. Waters said the site-work bidding will begin Dec. 1, and the bids for construction work will start Feb. 1.
The new school, which will be located across from the Long County Development Authority site, is tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2017.
“If everything goes as planned, we are hoping to see workers at the site sometime in March,” Waters said.
Dr. Glenn Purcell, the school system’s chief of staff also spoke of the district’s growth.
Student enrollment numbers have risen substantially from last year, he said.
He said that as of Oct. 6, the student count was 3,270, up 212 from last year’s 3,058. He said that over the last two years, the full-time-equivalent count had increased more than 10 percent.
Board Chairwoman Janet Watford said the growth is actually more than this because the FTE numbers do not take prekindergarten classes into account. She said that currently, there are 183 students in the pre-K program.
The population isn’t all that’s growing in the district.
Chief Financial Officer Bridget Welch told the board that the inflation rate has actually generated more revenue from the county’s growth. As a result of this, she said, the BoE could lower the current millage rate by a small percentage and still generate the desired revenue to meet the budget.
After a brief discussion, the board approved decreasing the current rate from 13.5 to 13.48 mills.
Purcell also told the board that administrators at Long County Middle School have appealed the decision by the Georgia Department of Education designating it as a Focus School.
In August, school Principal Heath Crane said the designation had originally been applied to Walker Elementary School for the 2011-12 school year because of an achievement gap between the highest- and lowest-performing student subgroups. Purcell said that despite Long County Middle meeting the standards to be taken off the list, the state kept it on the list because Walker had the designation.
Purcell said that because LCMS is only two years old, it does not qualify to be taken off the list because the state requires three years of information to be evaluated. He said the school’s appeal is requesting that the state either provide an exemption to LCMS for the change or only use the figures for its two years of existence. He said that if the state agrees to do one or the other, the school will be taken off the Focus list.
Georgia School Board Association risk manager Dr. Ricky Brantley also presented a $5,000 check to Support Services Director Scotty Hattaway and Food Services Director Stephanie Fox for a safety-incentive grant that was approved for food services. Brantley said the school system was one of 31 districts to be awarded a grant.
Fox also received a certificate from Alliance for a Healthier Generation wellness counselor Mike Stubbs. Stubbs said that award recognizes Fox’s commitment to promoting healthier eating in the school system.