Things might look a little different at some schools when students return to class Aug. 7.
A new elementary school is underway on Hereford Farm Road, Grovetown Middle School has about six months to go before it opens, Harlem Middle School is undergoing a major renovation of its office and science labs and new classrooms are being added to Greenbrier, Lakeside and Evans high schools this summer.
But the school system's maintenance department has also been busy sprucing up some schools to prepare for a new year.
What is the cost?
* Grovetown Middle School - $8.3 million
* New Elementary School - $5.9 million
* Classroom additions at Evans High School - $2 million; Lakeside High School - $2.1 million; and Greenbrier High School - $1.4 million.
* Harlem Middle School renovation - $730,000
* Martinez Elementary School parking lot - $171,000
"Hopefully, teachers are going to be returning to some bright buildings in some of these older schools that needed renovation," said Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price.
At Harlem Middle School, the central office has been crammed into the school's media center, while a major construction project to build a new administrative building is underway.
Five new science labs are also being configured out of two existing classrooms. The scheduled date of completion: one day before teachers return to school.
The office is not expected to be completed until October, said Principal Geoffrey Schlichter.
When school resumes, Harlem Middle's 860 pupils will be divided, with half slated to go to Grovetown Middle when it opens after the holidays. Those students and teachers will be housed in the 19 portable units at Harlem Middle until that time.
Work is also underway and should be completed by the time school begins on the parking lot at Martinez Elementary School.
The paving project will involve a redesign of the entrance, parking and dropoff and pickup lanes. There will only be one way for parents to enter the campus when the changes are made - from the drive south of the school which has been a bus entrance and "exit only." There will only be one traffic lane instead of two.
The work was done this year in anticipation of the Georgia Department of Transportation's plan to widen Flowing Wells Road. The project, which is slated for 2004, will consume about half of the school's front yard.
Access for the disabled has been installed at Lakeside Middle and Harlem, Greenbrier and Lakeside high schools. The project includes paving work at most schools, as well as the installation of a French drain at Greenbrier High to correct water problems.
There will be no more stinky tar smell at Harlem High School, where the re-roofing project has been completed. North Columbia Elementary School, which experienced serious water leaks in its kitchen last year, has also been re-roofed. And Harlem Middle is another school that's gotten a new top this summer. Blue Ridge Elementary students, however, will be back at class before that re-roofing project is completed.
South Columbia Elementary School will be a lot brighter this year. New lighting fixtures were installed at that school. And Lakeside High School is getting a paint job. New flooring has been installed at Evans Elementary and at South Columbia Elementary.
Harlem Middle School's lockers have been refurbished and painted, and new lockers for the gym have been installed at Columbia Middle School.
As the county's student population has shifted, so has its portable classroom units.
Bel Air Elementary School has added another portable classroom, for a total of nine; Bookwood Elementary has also added one, for a total of four; Evans Elementary has removed one, leaving only one on campus; Grovetown Elementary School has added one, for a total of two, Martinez Elementary is keeping its three; North Columbia Elementary is keeping its six; north Harlem is keeping its three, Riverside is keeping its two, South Columbia Elementary is keeping its three and Westmont Elementary School is keeping its seven.
When the new elementary school opens next fall on Hereford Farm Road, it will relieve overcrowding at Martinez Elementary School, Brookwood, Westmont an Bel Air, said Charles Nagle, associate superintendent for student and school services.
Harlem Middle will have the most portable units of any school. Four are being added next to the 15 that were already on campus. Riverside Middle will get one more, for a total of four and Lakeside Middle will get another one, for a total of two.
With the ten new classrooms added to the school, Evans High School will shed eight of its portable units, going from 13 down to five. Lakeside High will retain its eight portable units until the construction of 14 regular classrooms and band room is completed. Ultimately, though, school officials hope to be able to haul them off, too.
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