The Oconee County Board of Education on Monday granted the rights of way and easements to the county for roundabouts at the two entrances to Malcom Bridge Middle School, but with conditions.
The Board of Education said the county has to provide “assurance” that the work on the entrances will be completed by the beginning of the school year in August.
Board member Wayne Bagley made the motion for approval after stipulating the two conditions, and the other four members supported him in the final vote.
Board member Tim Burgess also called on the county to communicate with parents of children in the school “and try to explain to them a little more about how they believe this is going to work and how the traffic is going to flow.”
The Board took the action on the rights of way at the end of a meeting dominated by awards and recognitions, including for band and chorus at the county’s two middle schools and for star students at the county’s two high schools.
Brock Toole, chief operating officer for Oconee County Schools, on April 8 had presented the request by the Board of Commissioners for the rights of way and easements for the county to construct roundabouts at the parent entrance and bus and staff entrance to Malcom Bridge Middle School.
At that time, the Board had raised concerns about the request and suggested that it might not approve granting of rights of way and easements at its meeting on Monday.
Superintendent Jason Branch told the Board on Monday that the original documents had been modified to stipulate that the county would repair the sign at the school entrance “to its original condition” and cover any other property damage during construction.
Branch recommended approval of the granting of the county request.
Burgess On Communication
Burgess said he continues to hear concerns from parents “about how this is going to work over there.”
“It makes me think that maybe there needs to be some more information communicated by the county to the parents that live over in that area that have kids in both of those schools,” Burgess said.
Malcom Bridge Elementary School is next door to the Malcom Bridge Middle School.
Burgess asked Branch and Toole “to at least inform the county staff over there of the concerns that we’re hearing,” Burgess said.
“Since this is a county project and county initiative,” Burgess said. “Then I would expect it is their responsibility to address those concerns by those citizens over there.”
Branch and Toole said the would relay Burgess’ concerns to the county.
Bagley On Conditions
Bagley said he did not oppose executing the agreement but he said he didn’t want to turn the documents over to the county “until they are complete with their studies and they need, you know, at the point where they need it.
“We don’t want to turn it over until all of this is complete, at the prudence of the superintendent and chairman,” he added.
Bagley said he was concerned that the county would not have the entrances completed by the beginning of school and wanted an “assurance” from the county that the road work would be completed.
“I don’t know how we can do that,” Bagley said, “but I’d like to at least make that effort.”
Toole had told the School Board at its meeting on April 8 that the county staff had said the entrances would be finished by the beginning of school.
The Board of Commissioners originally proposed four roundabouts between the intersection of Malcom Bridge Road and Lenru Road and the intersection of Malcom Bridge Road and Mars Hill Road.
Board Chair John Daniell announced at the Board’s Town Hall meeting last (Tuesday) night that plans for the roundabout at Malcom Bridge Road and Lenru Road have been abandoned because of the limited amount of space available at that intersection.
Daniell said work on the other three roundabouts will begin shortly.
The Board had proposed the roundabouts as a way of easing traffic flow on Malcom Bridge Road once a new shopping center between Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road is completed.
The roundabouts also were presented as a way of eliminating the danger to sheriff deputies who work the school entrances at present.
I asked Oconee County Scott Berry in an email message on April 10 to explain his plans for assignment of deputies to the entrances to the schools given the county’s plans.
“There is no practical way to direct traffic in a roundabout,” Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry told me in an email message on Monday. “A T intersection is obviously the place for traffic control,” he added.
“A roundabout is designed to move traffic without the aid of signs or traffic directors of any kind,” Berry continued.
“I don't build roads but if I did I don't know what a deputy would do in the middle of a circle to direct traffic.
“It's my desire to make sure it's safe for students, parents and the traveling public to get in and out of our schools,” Berry wrote. “IF, and that is a big IF, they build roundabouts at the entrances to one or more schools we will evaluate the need to have someone there to direct traffic.”
During the public comment section of Monday’s Board of Education meeting, Robert Wyatt, Oconee County Board of Trustees chair, made the Board of Trustees’ request for continuing funding from Oconee County Schools for Oconee County libraries.
Wyatt asked for an increase in funding from $28,000 in the current fiscal year to $32,000 in Fiscal Year 2020.
Wyatt told the School Board that the Library Board is asking for $450,145 from the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, up from $433,247 in this fiscal year, and $22,000 from the City of Watkinsville, up from $20,000.
Bogart will contribute $6,500, the same as in the current Fiscal Year, Wyatt said.
The total budget for the county’s two libraries for the 2020 Fiscal Year is $539,443.
In addition to the government revenues, the libraries receive revenue from fines and fees, from copy machines, and from reserves.
Sports Field Lighting
The Board of Education on Monday voted 5 to 0 to approve North Cobb Electrical Services Inc. from Kennesaw for the Oconee County High School field lighting.
North Cobb Electrical Services submitted the low bid of $743,400 among six bidders for the project. Money for the lighting will come from the county’s Education Local Option Sales Tax.
Chief Operating Officer Toole told the Board that construction crews would work around sports being played on the field.
Toole also said the lighting improvements would be completed by the start of school in August.
The Board gave annual service awards to 11 employees who had worked for Oconee County Schools 25 years or more.
The Board also recognized All-State Band and All State Chorus Awardees from Oconee County Middle School and from Malcom Bridge Middle School.
Logan Cyterski was recognized as Star Student at North Oconee High School, and Jackson Huckaby was recognized as Star Teacher at North Oconee High School.
Oconee County High School had two Star Students, Seoho Kim, with Star Teacher Thomas Drewry, and Mayu Takeuchi, with Star Teacher Jacob Forrester.
The video below is of the Board of Education meeting of April 15.
Discussion of the easements and roundabouts begins at 41:28 in the video.
Wyatt made his request of the Board at 33:05 in the video.
The awards recognition begins at 1:17 in the video.