While work on a new elementary school in Columbia County is under way, construction on a future Columbia Middle School might begin next year.
In May, Columbia County school board awarded a $8.5 million bid to McDonald Construction Co. for the county's next elementary school, off Baker Place Road.
"Presently, we're about three weeks ahead of schedule," said Tim Beatty, the school system's executive director of facilities, maintenance and operations. "The job is preceding at a very rapid pace."
The 86,000-square-foot building will accommodate 51 classrooms and 750 pupils, Beatty said.
The new elementary school is adjacent to Grovetown High School. A name for the school could be decided by year's end, Beatty said.
In about a month, a color scheme for the brick building might be selected, he added.
"We haven't picked colors or anything yet," Beatty said. "That's the next thing that we'll do in the process."
The future facility is the 18th elementary school to be built in the county.
The new school should be finished by next June and open for the 2011-12 school year, Beatty said.
"It is looking good," Superintendent Charles Nagle said. "With the weather being as it is, we're doing well."
Plans to build a new Columbia Middle School also are moving forward after voters approved the $148.6 million 1 percent sales tax referendum in the July 20 primary election.
"Now that that's passed, which is a very good thing, we're full steam ahead on this," Beatty said.
The new Columbia Middle site could be on Columbia Road near Lewiston and Hereford Farm roads, Nagle said. The school could hold 1,100 pupils.
Work on the building could start in March 2011, and the new school is expected to open in 2012, Beatty said:
"All of that depends on how the weather goes and so forth."
Money from the 2012-17 education sales tax will also fund larger versions of Evans Elementary, Martinez Elementary and the school system's alternative school.
Future construction phases of the project might include rebuilding North Columbia, North Harlem and South Columbia elementary schools, and Harlem Middle School.
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