Norris Elementary site approved
The McDuffie County School Board received approval two weeks ago from the state to use the current Norris Elementary School site for the building of a new school.
"We had to receive permission to use that, because it's just proper procedure," School Superintendent Mark Petersen said.
The school board voted in April 2005 to replace Norris after a recommendation from a facilities consultant with the Georgia Department of Education.
The consultant, Bill Loudermilk, said a new facility was needed to conform to modern building codes. The current building could be renovated, but Mr. Loudermilk said that would be costly, and would not provide an efficient layout.
In addition to changes needed to meet standards from the Americans With Disabilities Act, aging pipes and wiring would have to be replaced.
"The state won't give us any money to renovate it, but they will give us money for new construction," Dr. Petersen said. "So, it's a no-brainer."
Dr. Petersen said the next step in the process is an application for state funds.
Petersen nominated for academy
McDuffie County Schools Superintendent Mark Petersen has been nominated to participate in the Georgia Academy for Economic Development for Region Seven.
"You were chosen because you are an active leader in your community, and one eager to make a difference in the economic future of your community," Tina Hutcheson, the representative for the Department of Community Affairs, said in a letter to Dr. Petersen.
The five-day program will take place at the White Columns Inn on various days of February through May.
The program takes an in-depth look at regional issues and opportunities, and enhances leadership skills.
"I think I can benefit from that," Dr. Petersen said. "In my opinion, schools are an integral part of growth and economic development. If we've got good schools, at least companies will have a better outlook on moving into a community and growing, because of the workers that we can put out."
Board approves building contract
The McDuffie County School Board signed a contract last Thursday evening with McKnight Construction Company for construction of the new junior high school on White Oak Road.
The 139-square-foot building will cost $17,010,000, which will be funded by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV, which voters approved in a September election.
McDuffie County Schools Superintendent Mark Petersen said construction should begin in approximately two weeks, and the contract states the building will be completed in 18 months.
Buckley Associates Architect, Greg Smith, went over the contract with the board members the day before it was signed.
Mr. Smith said the price, which came in at $122 per square foot, was "a very good figure based on our experience."
Another good aspect in the McKnight Company choice is that the supervisors slated for the construction will be local people, Mr. Smith noted. He said Wayne Johnson, supervisor, and Harold Whitaker, assistant supervisor, are both from Dearing.
Other discussion during the meeting included traffic concerns on White Oak Road and the name of the school. Mr. Smith said the original paperwork submitted to the state for approval calls the school "White Oak Middle School."
The name must remain until construction is complete. At that time, the school board will rename the facility to reflect the fact that it is an eighth and ninth grade school.