Columbia County plan might close, move older schools
Columbia County Bureau
Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 9:20 a.m.

At least four Columbia County schools would be torn down and rebuilt, some in new locations, and one would close under a plan unveiled this morning.

School Superintendent Charles Nagle presented to Columbia County School Board members a plan that includes closing Columbia Middle School and building a larger middle school on a new site several miles closer to Martinez.

The current school, built in 1956, is too small and uses septic tanks because sewer connections aren't available, Nagle said.

The new school would be built on an as-yet-unpurchased 37-acre site on Columbia Road "between Hereford Farm and Belair Road," Nagle said.

That school's student population would rise to 900-1,100 students, up from 700, and would gain those students by rezoning them from overcrowded Evans Middle, Nagle said.

The plan also would close Bel Air Elementary altogether, and those students would be distributed to new, larger schools built on the current sites of Martinez and Evans elementary schools.

The $148.6 million plan would be funded by the next round of sales tax collections, state appropriations, bond revenues and proceeds from the sale of the Bel Air Elementary site, Nagle said.

The current Columbia Middle site would be turned over to the school nutrition and transportation programs, Nagle said.

In Phase II of the proposal, North Columbia Elementary would close and would be built on a new site off Clanton Road near Tubman Road, Nagle said.

The new school would, like the new Evans and Martinez elementary buildings, house 800-1,000 students, up from its current population of 356. Many of those new students would come from the overcrowded Greenbrier Elementary.

North Harlem Elementary also would be torn down and rebuilt on its current site, coordinated with Phase III of the plan around 2016 that proposes demolishing and rebuilding Harlem Middle School.

That plan likely would include working with the city of Harlem to permanently close Troupe Street, which runs through the campus, and incorporating it into the site, Nagle said.

The furthest reaches of the plan, through 2017, would include rebuilding and expanding the alternative school and South Columbia Elementary School, and possibly Grovetown Elementary, Nagle said.

From the Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 online edition of The Augusta Chronicle
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