Strategic projects

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2007

Georgiana school new idea in design

By Jay Thomas


Georgiana's new school, when complete, will have no rival due to its design.

That's the word from Superintendent Mike Looney, who on Thursday, talked about the plans for new K-12 school, that while housed under the same roof, will indeed be two separate schools.

&#8220We're really excited about this layout,” he said.  &#8220The plans call for traditional classrooms, but there will also be career tech themed classrooms as well.”

That means that students will have an opportunity to explore different careers while going to school in the new building. If they have an interest in nursing, there will be classes and classrooms that will be utilized for that. If their interest is electronics, they will have those classes as well.

Mike Looney said the architect, 2WR of Montgomery, told him that they have never designed a school before like the one that Georgiana is getting, so just like Looney and the Board of Education members, they are excited about the building too.

That building will sit on property obtained on U.S. Highway 31.

&#8220We have already begun work on the land,” Looney said. &#8220Trees have been removed and we hope to bid out the site work in September. Once we get those people to the table, we'll move quickly at getting the foundation work going.”

He said the school will sit relatively close to the highway and as motorists drive by, the school will appear massive, but that too will be deceiving.

&#8220It will be 280 feet wide across the front of the building,” he said.  &#8220From the road, it will be massive, but while it's big across the front, from the side of the building it will look huge. We will have 100,000 square feet of educational space, office space, career tech classroom and much more.”

The design is unique because it is built to house both elementary and high school students. There will be a central lobby with the high school reception office on one side of the room, with the elementary office across from it. Each side of the school will have a main hallway that leads to the end of the building where a cafeteria will be housed.

&#8220We are really trying to think outside the box in terms of what the students and teachers need to be successful,” he said.  &#8220The concept is unique for we'll have an Internet caf\u00E9 location in the center of the school where students can work on laptop computers.”

He said he truly looks at the new school in Georgiana as a small packet of dynamite because of the potential it will give to the students and town.

&#8220Through this school, our students will be able to fulfill their learning potential and to go on from Georgiana and be successful in life,” he said. &#8220This building gives us an opportunity to give Georgiana a tool to grow and revive itself economically. Prospective industries will look on Georgiana and see that we're absolutely committed to giving the citizens there the best school possible. When it is complete, no one will be able to say that education was a barrier.”

The new school's cost will be approximately $15 million. Looney said the funds for the new school would not have been possible had everyone not come together and approved it. McKenzie, Georgiana and the county each approved a half-cent sales tax increase while the Board of Education and the City of Greenville each pledged $300,000 towards the construction.

If site work is completed by the end of the year, Looney said they should bid out the actual construction with work beginning after the first of the new year.

While excitement grows in Georgiana over a new school being there, an older school in Greenville is about to get a major facelift.

Looney said W.O. Parmer Elementary will soon be changing with a $6.5 million renovation.

&#8220We want to do what is in the best interest of W.O. Parmer and the community,” he said. &#8220This project will be completed in three phases because of the sheer size of the project.”

Looney said the unique thing about the project is that since they aren't totally demolishing the old school, a great deal of construction will occur while school is in session.

&#8220We have things that we've had to look at closely like traffic flow during construction as well as demolition issues,” he said.  &#8220At the end of the day, we think it will be worth any inconveniences because the community will see a brand facade at W.O. Parmer, a new driveway, a whole new look.”

Behind that new look, there will also be 12 new classrooms for students, a new cafetorium with a new kitchen and also new office space. Also, traffic being backed up on Fort

Dale during the morning drop off and the afternoon pickup will be a thing of the past.

&#8220I've tasked the architect in finding a traffic solution so that the traffic build-up on Fort

Dale Road will be eliminated,” he said.  &#8220We want the school to be not only student-friendly but also community-friendly.”

He said the reasoning behind the work at W.O. Parmer is that the needs of the children must be put first. He also said it is important to complete the job for the children who will attend school there that aren't even born yet.

The project's first phase will begin on the campus' oldest building that Looney said sustained significant hurricane damage when Ivan blew through in 2004.

He added that both the W.O. Parmer project and the new Georgiana school project are opportunities to show the world that in Butler County that locally, the Board of Education is committed to the values placed on public education and it serves as proof of those values.”