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New junior high school contracted for completion in July

The new Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School building has become quite the landmark with its wing-spread architecture filling the landscape across from the high school.

McDuffie County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Jim Franklin wouldn't say that the construction is on schedule, but neither would he say it is behind schedule.

The contract with McKnight Construction Company states the construction would take 540 days to complete.

In previous Board of Education meetings, it was reported that "the keys will be turned over on July 1, 2008."

"Construction is continuing at the site," Dr. Franklin said in a telephone interview. "We are now trying to get the building all sealed up so we can finish the painting and the cabinet work."

Dr. Franklin said caulking around the windows is going in now, striping has been done in the gymnasium, bleachers and cafeteria chairs and tables are on order, HVAC systems are being installed, decisions have been finalized for exterior lighting and interior color schemes, and the first phase of asphalt and curbing is completed.

"Lots of painting and cleaning is going on, getting all the dust out," Dr. Franklin said. "The major stuff left is inside, with all the detail work."

At 139,000 square feet costing slightly more than $17,010,000, the school is the largest building project ever undertaken in McDuffie County. The project is funded by Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV. The building will have the capacity to house 850 eighth and ninth graders.

"We've got 14 subdivisions cropping up," Superintendent Mark Petersen said. "And I don't know when the growth is coming, but we've got to start to think about that instead of just waiting for it to come. We are going to be prepared. It's going to be a state of the art facility, that frankly, I think is going to be a model across the state of Georgia."

McDuffie Schools Technology Director Bob Weems said the school will have computers and wireless projectors in every room. Earlier this month, the administration for the school was finalized with Steve Rhodes as principal, Cecil Strong as assistant principal of ninth grade and Neal Tam as assistant principal of eighth grade. Shantell Crockett will be the graduation coach.

"Over the next few weeks, Mr. Strong, Mr. Tam, and I will be meeting with our faculty members to gather input and advisement as we plan ahead," Mr. Rhodes said. "We understand that our faculty members are an invaluable link to the success of our students and we want them involved from this day forward."

Web posted on Thursday, February 28, 2008

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