The Columbia County Board of Education unanimously approved tentative enrollment projections for 2008-09 on Tuesday.
Based on two-year trends, the school system population is projected to increase by 484 students next year.
"This is conservative. We feel like this is probably where we need to start with our budgets," Superintendent Charles Nagle said.
He said the projections will enable the school system departments and individual schools to start preparing their budgets for 2008-09.
In other business, the school board awarded the construction bid for its new high school on Chamblin Road. Nagle said construction could begin in about two weeks.
The $26.5 million bid was awarded to R.W. Allen & Associates by a 4-1 vote. Board member Mike Sleeper opposed the motion and a previous motion in which the board agreed to include in the base bid a performance bond, which would ensure that the work is completed.
"My whole position is we already have a performance bond on the general contractor," Sleeper said Wednesday.
The performance bond is between the general contractor and the subcontractors, he said.
"It's money that we'll never see. It's money that we'll never make a claim against," Sleeper said.
He said the decision would result in a net cost of $67,000 to the school system, which could be better spent elsewhere.
Board member Wayne Bridges said it was "good business" to include the provision in such a project. Board member Roxanne Whitaker said she feared the board could be setting an undesirable precedent by not including the performance bond.
The new 250,000-square-foot high school is slated to open for the 2009-10 academic year.
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