COVINGTON — The Newton County School System is moving forward with plans to create its next five-year local facilities plan.
The school system’s current plan that identifies facility needs will expire June 30, 2014. Every five years, the system must develop one and submit it to the state Board of Education.
The plan is made up of an inventory of all existing facilities; historical student enrollment data and projected enrollment; current and projected system organizational patterns; instructional services and support programs for each school; facility needs; facilities to be phased out, closed or abandoned; construction projects in priority order; and proposed financing for implementing the plan.
School officials already are gathering information for the new plan.
According to a timeline to develop the plan, the system architect will determine construction needs and cost estimates this fall. In January, a consultant is scheduled to create a draft of the new plan for the superintendent’s approval.
School officials anticipate the school board adopting a plan in April 2014. The state board would approve a plan in May 2014.
The plan is expected to cover July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2019.
During a discussion of the plan at a recent meeting of the Newton County Board of Education, school board member Eddie Johnson asked again about the possibility of razing the old Sharp and Newton high school buildings, which are phased out of state funding. He said he was told by previous school officials that funding was available to raze the buildings.
Mike Barr, director of Support Services for NCSS, said that system officials are looking at prioritized needs in the school system before making a decision to raze any facilities.
NCSS business manager Peggy Bullard added that SPLOST funds may be available to raze the building, but if the funding is spent on those projects, they might not be able to be spent on other needs, like if a school needs a new roof.
“There are some urgent needs out there,” Barr said. “We have to look at it holistically.”
He said he wants to look at local and state allocations and connect them to current facility needs.
“I’m at a loss,” said Johnson about the possibility of there being a change from the last five-year plan. “I’m very disturbed that we’re now changing the ball game.”
The board previously discussed the fate of the old Newton High School at a meeting earlier this summer. Part of the building near Porter Memorial Auditorium is planned to be used for a STEM Academy for students to study science, technology, engineering and math, but some board members wondered about razing the rest of the building.
“I don’t feel like I’d be acting responsibility if I say now, ‘Let’s raze the high school,’” Barr responded.
School officials plan to update the board in the future of a general idea of priority needs.