After 33 years in the same place, the Columbia County school system's central office is looking for a new home.
School board members Tuesday reviewed plans for a new administrative office building that would replace the current Appling offices. The new, two-story building would include 30,380 square feet, including a 5,000-square-foot meeting room - more than three times the size of the board room in Appling.
The cost for the project is estimated to be about $2.5 million. School trustees a year ago set aside $2 million for the project and now would likely dip into the school system's reserves or use proceeds from a future school-construction bond issue to fund the rest, said School Superintendent Tommy Price.
The two-story facility would be built on Hereford Farm Road in Evans near Gibbs Road, adjacent to the site planned for the move of Evans Middle School.
"We haven't closed the deal yet, but we're close," Price said. "We've been working on this a long time, and we're finally down to the brass tacks."
Construction on the project could begin later this year.
"We hope to get it moving," Price said. "Based on the board's agreeing with the concept and the desire to move forward, we're going to get on it. I would think by this fall, we could be ready to get going."
The new building would house the school system's human resources and business department on the first floor and administrative offices on the second floor, said Tim Beatty, the director of buildings, who presented the draft blueprints to the board.
"It puts the right people together who interface daily," Beatty said.
The offices of the school system's psychological services and special services departments, currently in the old Johns Building in Grovetown, would move to the vacated Appling board office.
The Crossroads Academy alternative school, housed in a cyclone-fenced compound of dilapidated portable school buildings next to the county's bus shop, could then move to part of the Johns Building, and the Crossroads site would then be leveled to become an expanded parking lot for buses.
The new board office would be only the third ever for the county's school board. It first met in the county courthouse in Appling and moved across the street and a block away into the current board office in Appling three decades ago.
"The story was told that John Pierce (Blanchard, the long-time superintendent) went to Washington and came back with a bag of money," Price said with a laugh. "He said he was going to build this office building - I remember that story going around."
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