Columbia County School System officials met little fanfare at a meeting with citizens Thursday to explain the possible relocation of the Columbia County Alternative School.
About 10 citizens attended the meeting at Evans Elementary School, where the Alternative School is planned to move.
“The Alternative School is not something to be feared,” said Meryl Alalof, who started the school in 1995 and was its first principal. “This school has been here for a long time. The school is going to look the same on the outside. The ages of the students on the inside are going to change. But these are children that are going to blossom with each passing day.”
The proposal to move the school from the Johns Building, which is next door to Grovetown Elementary School, in Grovetown is to make good use of Evans Elementary, which will be vacant next year. The Alternative School spent the past six years in the building that is now in disrepair and will be condemned.
Additionally, students will have access to a cafeteria for hot lunches, a gymnasium and an auditorium.
It will cost about $3 million to replace the school, Superintendent Charlie Nagle said. But the Evans Elementary property wouldn’t sell for a quarter of that.
The school can accept up to 120 middle and high students who have violated the school Code of Conduct, not committed criminal acts, Nagle said.
“We probably have the safest school, I feel, in Columbia County,” Alternative School principal Dr. Ja’net Bishop said. The school has stricter rules and security than other county high schools.
Citizens were concerned about students wandering away from school, which Nagle said has never happened before. A resident of adjacent Walnut Grove was assured of continued access to the school property for citizens to use the track.
“You did a great job explaining it,” said Country Place resident Ka-Cee Vaughn. “I just wanted to know what the school is all about.
“I’m glad to know the school can be used for something. We don’t want it sitting empty. It’s another empty building in Columbia County.”