Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The Newton College & Career Academy will be a functional building next year, but it won't have all of the bells and whistles it might have in a better economy.

Last year, some members of the Newton County Board of Education asked if architects could look at the possibility of having on awning on the front of the school in the event of inclement weather.

But Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for Operations of the Newton County School System, advised school board members earlier this month to not move forward with the awning because of the cost.

"The career academy is at budget," he said.

The school is being developed using $3.05 million in state grant funds awarded as part of the Georgia Career Academy Project, spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. NCSS also will use $12 million in bonds through Qualified School Construction Bonds with a 0 percent interest rate to start the school.

Carpenter said adding an awning could cost an extra $40,000 to $65,000 that would have to come from an already tight capital funds budget that can be used for construction additions. Carpenter said steel prices are going up, so it could cost even more.

He added that most of the students attending the career academy would be juniors and seniors who drive to school or would ride with a friend, instead of taking a bus to the school each day.

"I think we can do without it," he said.

Ray Moore, an architect with Cunningham, Forehand, Matthews & Moore, said the front of the building is equipped with a hallway and commons area that will serve for cover in the event of inclement weather. On the back side of the building, a canopy will be placed so that young children who will attend a future children's program at the academy will be able to use it.

He added that it would cost more to add it later than to add it now while the school is being constructed.

School board members took an informal vote to see who would want to move forward with the project. Only member Eddie Johnson, who was one of the original school board members to ask for the awning, wanted to move forward with it.

"You don't need it until it rains," he said. "The kids need to be somewhere out of the rain. ... Let's do it right the first time."

Board member Abigail Coggin suggested that the school instead set up a system in which students could wait inside for their bus on necessary days.

"We might only have 20 kids ride the bus," said board member Shakila Baker. "It's something we have to find a way to work without it."

Other board members agreed.

"I can name elementary schools that need these now," said board member Jeff Meadors. "If we had all of the money, we'd like to have one, I agree."

The Newton College & Career Academy will open in the fall in a portion of Alcovy High School before the NCCA building behind Newton High School opens in January.