Monday, January 31, 2022

Oconee County Board Of Education Updated On Dove Creek Middle School Construction At Retreat

***Details Remain Sketchy***

The new Dove Creek Middle School will be a two-story building facing Hog Mountain Road just southeast of the existing Dove Creek Elementary School in the far northwest of Oconee County near the Barrow County line.

Parent entrance to and exit from the school will be off Osborne Road, with Drop Off in front of the school.

The bus entrance and exit will be off Hog Mountain Road, using the existing bus entrance and exit now serving Dove Creek Middle School.

The 156,000-square-foot building is to house 17 classrooms, seven science labs, a kitchen, cafeteria, media center, and gymnasium. The building capacity is 1,000 students.

The $39.6 million project also includes a natural-turf sports field at the rear of the middle school and a greenhouse on its southeastern side.

Completion is scheduled for the end of June of 2023 for the 2023-2024 school year.

Few Details Released

Oconee County Schools has released few details of the construction plans for the building to the public, but school administrators presented a rendition of the building at the Board of Education retreat held at the Georgia Club in Barrow County on Jan. 19.

Rendition Of Dove Creek Middle School

According to released minutes of the six-hour retreat, no members of the public were present.

No video recording of the meeting has been provided on the Oconee County Schools web site, and the released minutes provide no detail of documents released or discussion at the meeting.

I obtained a copy of the Operations Division Report including some information of the middle school construction via an open records request.

Via earlier open records requests, I obtained the Request for Proposals for the building, partial responses to that RFP, and the capital Outlay Project Application submitted by Oconee County Schools to the Department of Education for the 2022 Fiscal Year.

The state allocated $5.4 million to Oconee County Schools for the new middle school.

I also obtained, without having to file an open records request, documents provided by Oconee County Schools to the Oconee County Department of Planning and Code Enforcement for construction of the middle school.

The details of the middle school included here come from those documents.

Construction Underway

At the most recent Board of Education regular meeting on Jan. 10, Duane Peterson, Director of Transportation for Oconee County Schools, told the Board that site clearing and grubbing was underway for the new middle school.

Site Clearing Picture From 1/10/2022 Meeting

The contractor is ordering materials, a construction office has been set up, erosion control measures are being installed, he said.

The Board of Education voted in December to award a $34.4 million contract to Bowen and Watson Construction Company of Toccoa for construction of the new middle school.

The estimated total cost of the project is $39.6 million, including furnishing and technology.

Funding for the project comes mostly from the Education Local Option Sale Tax approved by voters last year. The new middle school was listed as the top project in promotion of the sales tax by school officials.

Update At Retreat

The Operations Report from the Jan. 19 retreat is attributed to Brock Toole, Chief Operations Office for Oconee County Schools.

Schematic Of New Middle (Click To Enlarge)

Included is the rendition of Dove Creek Middle School shown above.

The report also included the schematic at right showing the location of the new middle school on the 56-acre campus on Hog Mountain Road in the triangle formed by Hog Mountain Road, V.M. Osborne Road, and Osborne Road.

That schematic shows parent traffic flowing into and out of the campus from Osborne Road, with both a left and right turn exit.

Parent drop-off would be in front of the school.

Another roadway runs between the middle school and the sports field.

Planning Documents

The documents submitted by Oconee County Schools to Oconee County Planning and Code Enforcement show that the much of the land to the west of the new school will be used for sewage treatment.

Planning Document Site Plan
(Click To Enlarge)

Part of that land already is being used for a Land Application System for the Dove Creek Elementary School, and an additional section will be used for a new Land Application System for the middle school.

The documents show a septic tank between the new middle school and the sports field.

Oconee County does not have sewer lines that reach that far west in the county.

The document also shows the sports field with accommodating equipment for football, soccer, and lacrosse.

Request for Proposals

I filed an open records request on Dec. 8, 2021, for the bid submitted by Bowen and Watson Construction Company in response to the request for proposals issued by Oconee County Schools.

On Dec. 10, I was given access to two electronic documents, the Bowen and Watson Cost Proposal and the Bowen and Watson Qualifications and Proposal.

On Jan. 17 of 2022, I sent an email to Toole and asked for additional information.

“I have no details of what Bowen and Watson actually proposed,” I wrote. “I cannot see anything other than pictures of schools they have built elsewhere.”

“I think there is much in the bid documents that Bowen and Watson responded to that I’m not seeing," my email continued. "I don't know what specifications they were responding to. And I think there are materials that Bowen and Watson submitted that I’m not seeing.”

I did not hear back from Toole, but on Jan. 19 I received an email from Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, Director of Communications for Oconee County Schools, saying that Toole had forwarded my email to her.

“As your Open Records Request was fulfilled, if you would like to request additional information, please submit a new request to Dr. Brook Whitmire at,” she wrote.

I filed an open records request for reports given at the Jan. 19 retreat without any knowledge that they contained the materials on Dove Creek Middle School used above.

1 comment:

Jim Gaither said...

The BOE and Branch run a closed-mouth operation.