WARRENTON, Ga. - A career academy is one step closer to reality after a unanimous vote by Warren County Board of Education members Monday night.
Board members agreed to allow the architectural firm, James W. Buckley & Associates, to proceed with plans for renovating and repurposing the old Warren County High School building as a place for high school junior and seniors to attend dual-enrollment classes and community members to take college courses.
"We want to tell students 'You are not limited. You can go as far as you are willing to go," said Faye Montgomery, the associate superintendent for curriculum & instruction.
The career center will be a joint effort between the school system and Sandersville Technical College.
"I can't tell you, as an educator, how excited I am about this," said Lloyd Horadan, the president of the technical college.
Officials have pledged to keep the price tag of the work between $2 million and $3 million, and hope the facility will be open by the start of the 2010-2011 school year.
"The budget is paramount," Buckley and Associates' Craig Buckley. "We will not go over the budget."
The plans for the building range from some areas that need a good cleaning and coat of paint to some areas that will require extensive renovations to other areas that will be demolished altogether, Mr. Buckley said. There is also some new construction planned.
"This building will truly have a rebirth," he said.
Included in the plans for the building are a community meeting room, various specialized classrooms - like a welding lab - and new offices for the Warren County Board of Education.
Various costs for the center, like power and insurance, will be shared by all four groups - the school board, Sandersville Tech, Warren County and the City of Warrenton.
The career academy is just part of a larger plan for the surrounding property.
Warren County commissioners hope to build baseball fields, soccer fields and other recreation areas on the land adjacent to the school building. The county's recreation department already manages the gym at the old school and will have offices in the career center building, said Commission Chairman John Graham.
"I think the three different entities can work seamlessly together," he said. "This is a great use for that property."
Warrenton Mayor Tony Mimbs encouraged school board members to remember that the project is being funded by a state grant, and to not move forward would be devastating.
"If the state gets word we've turned back a $3 million grant, we'd go to the back of line for all future grants, and we just can't afford to do that," he said.