Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell appeared at the Monday meeting of the Oconee County Board of Education to reassure Board of Education members that the county is moving expeditiously on roadwork around Dove Creek Elementary School, set to open next school year.
Daniell’s comments followed questions from Board of Education members about the county’s work on the entrances to the school at the Jan. 22 meeting and again on Monday and reports from Facilities Director Jake Grant that the county was behind on the project.
“We don’t anticipate any problems at this time” in having the work done by the beginning of the school year, Daniell said.
In other action on Monday, the Board of Education approved, with little additional discussion, the spending of $2.2 million to replace the synthetic tracks and to replace the natural turf with artificial turf at the system’s two high school stadiums.
Bagley’s Question In January
At the Jan. 22 meeting of the Board of Education, member Wayne Bagley asked about the status the work by the county on the entrances to Dove Creek.
|Daniell, At Podium, With Parrish, Branch, Bagley and Burgess|
Grant, then Chief Operating Officer for the system, said it had been “his understanding” that the county would submit plans to the Georgia Department of Transportation within the first 10 days of January and that had not taken place.
Grant said he then was told by Abe Abouhamdan, who is serving as Oconee County project engineer for the work, that Abouhamdan planned to submit the plans to the Georgia DOT at the beginning of February.
The Board of Education and the Oconee County Board of Commissioners signed an intergovernmental agreement late last year in which the county agreed to obtain GDOT permits and design approval for acceleration and deceleration lanes coordinated with three entrances to the school along Hog Mountain Road.
The new elementary school is on Hog Mountain Road between Osborne Road and Dewey Road near the Barrow County line. Hog Mountain Road is State Route 53.
At the meeting on Monday, Board of Education member Tim Burgess asked Grant for a status report on the road work at Dove Creek.
Grant said he had been in communication with Abouhamdan and Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara and “it is my understanding at this particular hour that a submittal may not have been made yet but we believe that it is imminent.”
Grant added that we “We would like to get some design information” needed to move forward with the construction of the school.
Superintendent Jason Branch told the Board he had spoken with Commission Chair Daniell on the previous Friday (Feb. 2) “and we’re going to get more information, probably first thing tomorrow morning.”
Branch said he expected the to have the “road design information that Jake needs to be able to run those gas lines to be able to have that temperature control that is necessary to move the connect space for the project.”
Daniell came to the podium to tell the Board that the county has met with the state and that the Georgia Department of Transportation “is being very cooperative and offering a lot of opportunities to make things work there.”
Daniell said some design issues arose that “slowed down the process somewhat.”
Daniell said he anticipated submitting the permit materials to the state by Monday (Feb. 12) at the latest and to start advertising for a contractor, with the goal of a being able to award a contract by April 6.
The county will provide the school system the needed design information, Daniell said, and that county crews will begin some preliminary work, including the straightening of Osborne Road, before the contract for the work on Hog Mountain Road was let.
Tracks And Fields
The Board of Education voted 3 to 0 to accept a low bid of $2,214,850 from Sports Turf Company of Whitesburg, in Carroll County, west of Atlanta, to replace the tracks at North Oconee High School and Oconee County High School and to install artificial turf at the stadium fields for the two schools.
The fields currently are natural turf, but Grant had told the Board in December that the schools will have eight sports on the fields in the spring and “the fields can just get overused.”
Superintendent Branch said the tracks are “deteriorating” and that there would be a “cost savings” from replacing the natural turf with synthetic turf at the same time.
Board members had asked for details of the project, with much of the focus on aesthetics, at the meeting on Jan. 21.
On Monday, Bagley asked for clarification about costs, and Superintendent Branch said the sports field conversions would be about $1.2 million and the track replacement about $1 million.
Board Chair Tom Odom and Board member Kim Argo were absent from the Monday meeting, and Board Member Amy Parrish presided.
Dove Creek Construction Update
Grant, who just moved from the position of chief operating officer to facilities director, said 97 percent of the brick work had been completed for the Dove Creek Elementary School, 95 percent of the roofing is complete, and that 65 percent of the carpeting has been installed.
The four-building complex includes 48 classrooms.
Amacher Bros. Construction Company of Atlanta has the $13.2 million construction contract for the school, which is to open for the next academic year.
Brock Toole is the school system’s new chief operations officer.
Oconee High School Update
Grant said work on the addition of 20 classrooms at Oconee County High School is progressing.
Work has begun on D Wing, with an eight classroom addition, Grant said. The next phase will add four classrooms to B hall, five science classrooms to A hall, and three classrooms to K hall.
The work on D Wing is scheduled to be completed by the start of the new school year, Grant said.
The Board of Education, at its meeting on Dec. 11, voted to approve a contract for $8,574,000 with Kevin Price Construction, 2500 Daniells Bridge Road, for the eight classrooms and an upgrade of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at the high school.
Grant said that the portable classrooms at the high school will be removed with the construction of the first 8 classrooms.
Students will have access to school facilities throughout the construction project, he said.
Dove Creek Pilot
Claire Buck, school system chief academic officer, updated the Board on the pilot testing of audio enhancement technology in one classroom at each of the county’s five elementary schools.
The teacher in the class has a microphone that amplifies her or his voice throughout the room “so that all of the students can hear,” Buck said. Students also have a microphone that they can use.
Feedback has been favorable from teachers and students, Buck said.
Buck said she is recommending that the Board expand the pilot to Dove Creek Elementary School when it opens in the fall.
Buck said the system had bids from four vendors to expand the pilot to Dove Creek and that the recommendation is to approve Dooley Education Solutions, based in Athens, the current provider of the microphones in the elementary classrooms.
The cost of the pilot expansion to Dove Creek is $81,997, and the vote on the bid will be before the Board at its next meeting on Feb.19.
The money will come from the Education Local Option Sales Tax, Buck said.
The video below is of the Feb. 5 meeting of the Board of Education.
Buck’s comments on the audio enhancement pilot projects begin at 5:26 in the video.
Board member Burgess asked his question about the entrances to Dove Creek at 23:56.
The response of Facilities Director Grant followed.
Superintendent Branch commented at 25:06 in the video.
Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair Daniell began his comments at 25:48.
The vote on the sports fields is at 28:50.