Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Oconee County School Board Receives Four-Year Facility Plan That Includes A New Middle School

***Board Action Scheduled For Monday***

The Oconee County Board of Education on Monday is expected to take another step toward construction of a third middle school for the county.

Jake Grant, director of Facilities for Oconee County Schools, presented to the Board at its work session this past Monday a facilities plan for July 1, 2020, through, June 30, 2024, that includes as its top and most expensive item $6.9 million as partial funding for a new middle school.

State law requires the school system to have the plan in place before it can obtain state funds for projects on the list.

A state Validation Team has visited the county and examined the plan, Grant told the Board.

The Board will be asked to pass a resolution approving of the plan at its regular meeting on Monday.

The plan also includes money for renovations and modifications of five of the system’s six elementary schools, of its only primary school, and of both of it’s existing middle schools as well as additions and modifications to its two high schools.

Details Of Plan

The project list presented to the Board by Grant lists $17.8 million in facilities projects for which Oconee County Schools is entitled to receive state Department of Education funds.

Board Members Wayne Bagley, Tim Burgess, Grant, Toole

The plan for the new middle school lists 34 classrooms, and Grant said that is the number for which the system is eligible based on current enrollments. The number can go up as enrollments increase, he said.

A typical middle school might have 60 units, Grant told the Board.

Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, director of Communications for Oconee County Schools, told me in an email message after the meeting that the estimated cost of a 1,000-student middle school in today's dollars is approximately $40 million.

When the school system purchased the land for the Dove Creek Elementary School on Hog Mountain Road in the far west of the county it said there is enough space available for a middle school on the site.

Next Steps

The current facilities plan for Oconee County Schools expires on June 30 of 2020, and Grant said he has been working on the new plan for year. The plan is officially called a five-year plan for that reason, he said.

“We have increased our need in our plan greatly from where we were,” Grant said.

The old plan included $9 million in projects, including the just-completed addition to Oconee County High School.

Once the new plan is approved by the Oconee County Board of Education, it goes to the state Board of Education for approval, according to Grant.

Oconee County Schools can make application to the Georgia Department of Education after July 1, 2020, for items included in the plan. Oconee County Schools would spend the money and apply for state reimbursement, Grant said.

Teaching And Learning Report

Claire Buck, chief academic officer for Oconee County Schools, said in her report to the Board on Monday that the system will accept applications beginning Nov. 22 for transfers from the assigned school to another that is under capacity.

Board Members Bagley and Burgess, Buck

Parents are responsible for all costs associated with transporting to and from selected schools if a child does not attend the originally assigned school, Buck said.

Only Malcom Bridge Middle School, one of the system’s two middle schools, is over capacity, Buck reported.

Buck also reported to the Board on the release of data from the Georgia Department of Education for the College and Career Ready Performance Index and for the five year Graduation Rate.

The data, from the 2018-2019 school year, show that Oconee County Schools had a College and Career Ready Performance Index of 92.5, compared with 88.1 a year earlier. The 2019 score was the third highest among county systems in the state, Buck said.

The five-year graduation rate for Oconee County schools was 97.2 in 2019, compared with 95.0 a year earlier, and ranked number seven among school districts in the state, Buck reported.

Buck also reported that the results of the ACT college entrance exam scores for 2019 showed that the average Composite Score of 23.8 for Oconee County test takers put the system in the number four rank in the state.

That score was a slight drop from the 24.2 Composite Score of a year earlier.

Construction Update

Brock Toole, chief Operations officer, told the Board during his report that he has been in communication with the county about road construction and that the roundabout at the intersection of Malcom Bridge Road and Mars Hill Road is operational.

Construction on the center island and splitter islands is continuing, he said.

Toole said he was told that bids are due Dec. 3 for the roundabout on Malcom Bridge Road at the bus and staff entrance to Malcom Bridge Elementary School and Middle School, Toole said.

The Board of Education has refused to grant to the county right of way for the bus entrance, requiring the county to delay the project and develop an alternative design.

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell attended the meeting on Monday, but Board Chair Tom Odom did not invite him to speak.


The video below is of the Board of Education meeting on Monday.

Buck gave her report at 3:56 in the video.

Toole gave his report at 12:41.

Grant gave his report 14:34.

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