A new middle school will be a key item that will be rolled over from the current five-year facilities plan for schools to the new plan due to go into effect this coming summer.
The McDuffie County school board has taken the first step in developing the new plan by formally requesting input from the state of Georgia. The new five-year plan would go into effect July 1, 2005 and include the new school as well as other improvements.
The district bought land across from Thomson High School and prepared the site under the current five-year plan, said former Superintendent Ed Grisham.
Although the current plan includes a number of renovations and classroom additions, "The focus of the plan was preparing for the new middle school," he said.
The project is moving ahead, and "We hope to have a contract by the end of 2005," said Dr. Jim Franklin, McDuffie County assistant superintendent for administrative services.
The department of transportation will provide a bypass, and the school board is requesting two entrances, one from the bypass and one from White Oak Road, he said.
"We hope the school can be used by 2006," he said.
The new school will be funded by a special purpose local option sales tax and should also receive state funding if approved by the Georgia General Assembly. SPLOST funds have been important to school improvements in general, and will play a key role in the construction of the new school.
"If we did not have the SPLOST funds approved by local citizens, we could not make the improvements we are making and certainly could not build a new school," Dr. Franklin said. "We are appreciative of the funds. They have a direct correlation to academic improvements."
Other aspects of the new five-year plan have not yet been developed, but "We will be meeting with principals and others in the district to see what is needed. The plan will then go through several reviews, and no new plan will be final until the state board approves it," he said.
Under the current plan, every school saw improvements that ranged from new classrooms to parking lots to kitchen renovations.
During his two years in the position of assistant superintendent for administrative services, Dr. Franklin highlighted just some of the improvements that occurred:
Maxwell and Thomson Elementary received new gyms and several classrooms.
At Norris Elementary, the security systems were improved and renovated classes helped accommodate the office of exceptional children
At Dearing Elementary, students enjoy new outdoor classrooms and a canopy for inclement or hot weather.
The Brickyard had improvements including a new sound system, canteen, fence, pavilion, parking lot and tennis courts.
At Thomson Middle School, new restrooms were added to the gym and the exterior was refurbished and repainted. In addition, carpet was replaced with tile.
"Whenever we can, we replace carpet with tile," Dr. Franklin said. "It's cleaner and better for allergies."
A new health and P.E. building and a new vocational building improved the high school.
At Crossroads Learning Center, the floors and ceilings were refinished and extensive tile work, especially in the cafeteria, gave the school a fresh look.
"We established a computer lab and made a lot of major improvements there," Dr. Franklin said.