Although Norris Elementary School has been lovingly maintained over the years, it may be time to consider replacing it with a new facility, according to a consulting expert from the Georgia Department of Education.
Bill Loudermilk, a facilities consultant, suggested the McDuffie County Board of Education consider applying for state funds to build a new school to replace Norris, which has a number of challenges due to its age and architectural elements.
The state would help fund the construction of a new school using a standard formula, he said.
"Your schools are getting to the point of being in great shape, with the exception of Norris Elementary," Mr. Loudermilk told board members at a work session Thursday, March 24.
Mr. Loudermilk and Jim Franklin, assistant superintendent for administrative services, toured Norris and other schools last Thursday before attending the meeting.
"The school has been well maintained. It's a credit to the school system," Mr. Loudermilk said, but he noted the school has serious code problems that would have to be fixed if it were renovated. The school is not in code violation at this time since it is held to the code standard under which it was built, but if a major renovation were to occur, the school would have to meet the new standards.
Other issues that would be difficult to resolve would be windows that are not energy efficient, long ramps that don't meet standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and an archaic pipe system.
With a renovation, there would be wiring and plumbing concerns as well. In addition, the layout of the school is not efficient.
"Even if you spend the money, you can't rearrange how the building is laid out," he said.
Board member Paul Leroy suggested exploring options to keep the gym even if the school is eventually scheduled for replacement.
Because the school system is in the process of building a new middle school, the board may choose to wait a year before taking action on Norris, said Dr. Mark Petersen, superintendent of McDuffie County schools.