Sunday, December 05, 2021

Oconee County Schools Has Issued Request For Proposals For New Middle School

***Update On Submitted Bids Likely On Monday***

Oconee County Schools has issued a request for proposals for construction of new, third middle school, with responses due on Nov. 11.

Fred Ricketson, director of facilities for Oconee County Schools, told members of the Board of Education at their work session last month that 11 potential bidders had participated a pre-bid conference and he expected five actual submissions.

The request for proposals calls for a 156,000-square-foot, two-story building on 56 acres shared with Dove Creek Elementary School in the far northwest of the county. Work is to be completed by May 31, 2023.

The Board of Education holds a work session tomorrow, and it is likely that a discussion of the bids will be included in the usual Operations Report.

The Board of Education does not allow citizen comment its work sessions, but Rebecca McCants spoke at the regular session of the Board last month.

McCants told the Board that she anticipated it will be asked to consider curricular modifications that she opposes.

McCants, who identified herself as vice-chair of Moms for Liberty of Oconee County, said the requests are likely to include the teaching of critical race theory, which she called “educational indoctrination.”

As is usually the case, no school administrator or member of the Board responded to McCants.

Reason For Citizen Comment

McCants began her comments to the Board at its Nov. 8 regular meeting by saying, with a smile, “I am not a domestic terrorist but rather a concerned parent for the well-being of my children and for all children.

Board Members Tim Burgess, Michael Ransom,
McCants And Daughter

“I continue to support the BOE in their efforts for a successful school year, and I'm pleased that the option for personal choice is held at the highest level in regard to masks and vaccinations,” she continued.

Oconee County Schools does not require either masks or COVID-19 vaccinations.

McCants said she recently attended a workshop hosted by Truth in Education “where I learned about Georgia's curriculum and their agenda for our children in public schools.”

According to a Facebook post, Truth in Education held a workshop on Nov. 6 at The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta.

“I would like to make you aware, if you do not already know, what is coming down the pipeline,” McCants continued.

“The push for whole child and the use of Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, or ASCD, is disturbing and should be reviewed carefully,” McCants said.

According to its web site, the Georgia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is an affiliate of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, a membership-based non-profit organization made up of superintendents, principals, teachers, professors of education, and other educators.

McCants’ Concerns

McCants told the Board “I urge you to push back on this curriculum, as it is detrimental to the minds of our children.

“Critical race theory, also known as culturally responsive teaching, is an overall term used for multiple tentacles of educational indoctrination,” she continued.

“Some of those terms are Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Signs of Suicide (SOS), Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE),” McCants said.

“I do not have time to go into each of these things today,” McCants said, “But I would like to bring them to your attention and inform you of the dangers these impose on a child.”

McCants was the only citizen who spoke at the Nov. 8 meeting, but several persons in the back of the room clapped when she finished.

After speaking, McCants picked up her daughter, who had been at her side, and placed her at the microphone. Her daughter told the Board “I like kindergarten.”

Operations Report

Ricketson’s announcement of the issuance of the Request for Proposals for the new middle school was the first public update on the status of that project, listed as the top priority when Oconee County Schools asked citizens in March to approve a new Education Local Option Sales Tax.

Burgess, Ransom, Ricketson (L-R)

Ricketson also updated the Board at that Nov. 1 meeting on the status of construction of classroom additions at Colham Ferry Elementary School and at High Shoals Elementary School, which have moved ahead of middle school construction.

“Happy to report that we finally have the steel structure in place at Colham Ferry,” Ricketson said. “And block work has begun today, so we've actually got vertical progress, and I think it's going to be moving along well.”

Ricketson said paving of the track and most other work needed on the relocated play field at High Shoals Elementary School had been finished.

“Today they began site demolition at the construction site itself,” he said.

Discussion Of Bidders

Ricketson next announced issuance of the Request for Proposals for the new middle school and said six of the 11 respondents to the issued Request For Proposals for the new middle school had met qualifications.

“We're looking forward to seeing who proposes and what of a submittal package they have to offer,” he said.

Board Member Tim Burgess asked Ricketson how many bids he expected to receive.

“I know they're quite interested,” Ricketson said. “I know with the volatile market they're uneasy and have a lot of questions,” he continued. “But we are we're very excited they're asking a lot of questions right now before being considered.”

Ricketson said he all of the six qualified bidders “probably won't” submit a bid. “But I expect probably at least five” will follow through, he added.

Construction Details

The Request for Proposals, which I obtained from Alana Hogan at Oconee County Schools, provides limited information on the plans for the middle school.

It calls for a “steel frame structure on concrete foundations and retaining walls.”

“The project also consists of a football field,” it states.

Oconee County Schools refused to release to the public the expected costs of the projects on its wish list for the Education Location Option Sales Tax referendum.

Internal documents that I obtained via an open records request filed after the election showed that school administrators had estimated cost of the middle school is $36.6 million.

The capacity of the school has been set at 1,000 students. It will be on Hog Mountain Road, next to the Dove Creek Elementary School on that site.

Other documents I received via an open records request show that the Georgia Department of Education for the current fiscal year approved $5.4 million of state funds for construction of the middle school.

The application lists 17 classrooms, seven science labs, and eight other labs or rooms at the new middle school.


I did not attend either the Nov. 1 or Nov. 8 meetings of the Board of Education.

School officials record videos of the meetings and upload them to a YouTube channel for Oconee County Schools.

The still images used above are screen shots from those videos.

Even though the videos are for public consumption and recorded at taxpayer expense, school officials have placed restrictions on how they can be shared. Please check Watch on YouTube to see them.

The first video below is of the Nov. 1 work session.

Ricketson begins his review of construction projects, including for the new middle school, at 10:44 in the video.

Below is the video of the Nov. 8 meeting.

McCants began speaking at 21:39 in the video.


Jim Gaither said...

It's clear Ms. McCants doesn't know beans about critical race theory but is using the term as a catch-all for educational techniques she disapproves of that aren't used in Oconee but might be someday so watch out!

Be careful, Ms. McCants. By all means care for your kids but if you keep talking loosely and fretting about "their agenda", people might think you're the indoctrinated one.

Retired teacher Lawrence said...

I agree with Jim regarding the unfounded worries from Ms. McCants about school curricula. By the way, this retired teacher always taught what the state of Georgia required, and that's the way it works in Oconee County. She needs to take her concerns to the state level, not the county.

-David Lawrence (Bishop, GA)