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Newton school board breaks grounds on NHS site

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Members of the Newton County Board of Education and some officials at the Newton County School System helped break ground this week on the replacement site for Newton High School on Jack Neely and Crowell roads. Pictured are, from left, Mike Barr, director of Support Services; NCSS Deputy Superintendent Dennis Carpenter; Architect Ray Moore; school board members Jeff Meadors and Shakila Henderson Baker; NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews; and school board members Abigail Coggin, Eddie Johnson and Almond Turner.

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Members of the Newton County Board of Education and some officials at the Newton County School System helped break ground this week on the replacement site for Newton High School on Jack Neely and Crowell roads. Pictured are, from left, Mike Barr, director of Support Services; NCSS Deputy Superintendent Dennis Carpenter; Architect Ray Moore; school board members Jeff Meadors and Shakila Henderson Baker; NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews; and school board members Abigail Coggin, Eddie Johnson and Almond Turner.

COVINGTON — The Newton County Board of Education helped break ground on the replacement site for Newton High School this week.

The site is located on nearly 118 acres of land on Crowell Road North that also fronts Jack Neely Road, which was purchased by the Newton County School System for about $2.3 million. The land was previously bank owned after it was foreclosed on when it was abandoned as an undeveloped neighborhood.

A.L. Grading Contractors Inc. out of Suwanee was approved earlier this year to complete the site work for about $2.4 million.

At Tuesday's monthly work session of the school board, members approved McKnight Construction Company Inc. out of Augusta to serve as the general contractor of the construction of the school building. It was for the low bid of $42,603,500 out of eight other bidders, none of which were local.

Eddie Johnson was the only school board member to vote against the proposal; he felt he has not seen enough site plans or information about the school building.

Johnson also was concerned about the use of local crews to complete the work. NCSS Deputy Superintendent Dennis Carpenter said the system encourages the general contractor to use local companies but they cannot force them to do so since it's a low-bid environment.

Earlier this year, architects from Cunningham, Forehand, Matthews and Moore presented site plans of the school campus. It is expected to house a two-story building, bus parking and two parking lots, as well as athletic and practice fields and a sports complex; it also could hold a future stadium.

Like some of the newer schools, the new building and site also is expected to feature some sustainability initiatives. They include erosion and pollution controls, avoiding state waters and wet lands, increased wall and roof insulation, a reflective roof, waterless urinals, classroom sensors, rainwater irrigation, pervious paving and other environmentally friendly features.

Last year, the school board approved a resolution for the Georgia Department of Education to phase out NHS from state funding in order to earn more money for the system to build newer schools. The system still could use the building, as it does with other buildings phased out of state funding, but only local funding can be used to repair or update the school building.

The new school is scheduled to open in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Later, perhaps in 2017, NCSS plans to build a replacement building for Eastside High School, according to its facilities plan that the school board approved last year.