A couple of years ago, a passing commentary in The News-Times drew hasty denials from school system officials: No, they said, Evans Middle School wasnt for sale.
That was then. Now, school officials soon expect to receive proposals from real estate firms hoping to market the prime commercial site.
This isnt intended to brag about prescience; its to make the point that vision usually gets ahead of reality. In this case, the reality for the school system is that Columbia County first had to wait for the state of Georgia to declare the circa 1956 Evans Middle building surplus; that designation allows the system to sell the property and receive state funding to help build a replacement.
Thats an important factor. Based on the cost of Grovetown Middle, which opened a year ago, the cost for a new school is expected to be around $11 million. Though the sale of the 21-acre Evans Middle property is expected to generate a tidy sum - perhaps in excess of $5 million - thats not enough for a replacement facility. State funding will make up the difference.
The reality, too, is that there will be a long delay between any sale and a move to a new building. It could happen as quickly as 22 months, but more realistically, three years is the time required to make the move, says Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price.
What will eventually appear on the site? The free market will make that decision. One thing is certain: That 21 acres is far more valuable for commercial use than it is as an aging school facility. By moving the school to a less-commercially viable site, and putting a valuable piece of property back on the tax rolls, the county gets the best of both worlds.
Better still: Future Evans Middle students will get a nicer school.
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