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NCSS seeks funds to replace NHS

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education will decide tonight on an application for funding of a replacement facility for Newton High School.

"At the beginning of each fiscal year, eligible school systems may make application to the Georgia Department of Education for funding for projects included in a current and approved facilities plan," said Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews in a memo to school board members.

With its updated facilities plan revised last school year, NCSS has identified a need to replace NHS, which has been phased out of state funding along with Ficquett and Palmer Stone elementary schools.

NCSS wants to ask for $29,169,232 in state funding through the 2012 capital outlay application. It would be funded through Qualified School Construction Bonds, which were authorized by the federal government through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In July, NCSS applied for authorization to use $11 million in QSCB funds to ensure adequate initial funding; those bonds are expected to be issued by Dec. 31.

With the total cost of construction and equipping the new high school expected to be about $43 million, other funds would come from special purpose local option sales tax and other local sources of revenue, according to Mathews.

If approved, the application must be submitted to the Ga. DOE by Oct. 1. Construction would take place from April to July 2013, with the school expected to be open by the fall of 2013, according to Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent of NCSS. It hasn't been announced where the school will be built.

In the future, NCSS also plans to build a replacement high school for Eastside High School, which could have its facility turned into a kindergarten through eighth-grade parent involvement theme school or another specialty school, according to previous discussions.

Tonight the board also is expected to hear the results of the bids for construction of the Newton College and Career Academy, which is being placed on the Newton High School campus.

The building is expected to be 181,000 square feet and house programs like business, cosmetology, early childhood education, public safety, graphic arts, broadcasting, engineering and manufacturing, health care, horticulture and construction, as well as an unfinished space for future development.

As previously decided, the school will be developed using the $3 million in state grant funds awarded to NCSS and DeKalb Technical College as part of the Georgia Career Academy Project, an initiative spearheaded by Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in 2007. NCSS also will use $12 million in bonds through the Qualified School Construction Bonds with a 0 percent interest rate.

Charles Sullivan Construction of Homer completed the site work and grading for $364,000, as approved by the school board.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. today in the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.