At a school board meeting Tuesday, an Augusta architectural firm predicted the cost of a new high school in Columbia County would reach $29 million just for the construction.
The board hired Hughes, Beattie, O'Neal, Law and Associates to adapt the architectural plan it created for Greenbrier High School to the site of a new high school off Columbia Road.
The firm will be paid 5.25 percent of the school construction cost, according to school documents.
The new school will be an 86-unit facility, Columbia County school Superintendent Tommy Price told the board.
"That is going to be as large as Greenbrier is now," he said.
Architect McDonald Law told the board that construction would need to begin no later than February to accommodate an August 2008 start date.
Price told the board he realized the time frame is tight, but he wants to go forward to relieve overcrowded high schools as soon as possible and avoid inflationary costs the system might incur by waiting another year.
Also at the meeting, Price told board members that police are investigating the theft of confidential personnel records that were left behind at the old Evans Middle School.
Price said two women presented him with a roster of teachers and some students. The information includes some of their Social Security numbers.
Board members expressed concern about how such sensitive information could be left behind, and Price speculated that a secretary simply threw away old documents without realizing what they were. He called the incident an "innocent oversight" and said the records should have been shredded.
School workers have since removed all documents from the school and secured the building, Price said.
About 300 employees and students might have had their Social Security numbers exposed, Price said.
"This is an extremely rare circumstance," board member Mike Sleeper said.
Children playing found the personnel materials in a trash bag in the lobby of the administrative office, Price said.
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