Fayette Board of Education considers aging school’s needs; $12 million or $24M?
Should Booth Middle School in Peachtree City receive needed a renovation at $11-12 million or should the school be replaced for about $24 million? That question is on the minds of the Fayette County Board of Education and will likely be addressed in the near-term. Booth began as a junior high school more than three decades ago on its campus on Peachtree Parkway South.
Above, J.C. Booth Middle School in Peachtree City, off South Peachtree Parkway. Photo/Ben Nelms.
School board members at the February work session heard a presentation from Facilities Director Mike Satterfield on replacing the gym and addressing a number of other concerns at the facility. That discussion led to the idea of, perhaps, constructing a new school. When it comes to replacing the school, the $11-12 million in renovation costs would likely turn into approximately $24 million to scrap the school and build a replacement on the site.
Satterfield noted numerous existing issues that included the current gym and its support facilities being undersized, a cafeteria that seats 400 with a student population of 1,200, an undersized fine arts area, narrow hallways compared to other schools and the loading dock for the kitchen located on the front of the school.
While Booth has square footage comparable to the other middle schools, it is not laid-out as well, said Satterfield.
Satterfield said the initial idea was to take care of existing issues by building a new gym in the current bus loop area, relocating the bus loop behind the school, relocating the cafeteria to the old gym and adding a new kitchen and loading dock. That way, the existing cafeteria could be used for fine arts and it would free-up eight or nine classrooms, Satterfield said.
In all, the project would cost $11-12 million, he said.
Satterfield noted that comments from some on the school board referenced the potential constructing a replacement building instead of renovating.
A replacement school on the Booth property could include a one- or two-story building. In terms of potential location, the school building could be located where the ball fields are currently situated, with the future fields essentially changing places with the building, said Satterfield.
The preliminary estimates cost of replacing the school could be approximately $24 million.
Funding for the replacement school could be accomplished by a bond or by using SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funds, though doing so would require foregoing other SPLOST projects.
“To throw more money to fix part of a substandard building seems foolish from a long-term perspective,” said board member Leonard Presberg in advocating for potentially replacing the school.
Some others on the board tended to agree with that position, with Superintendent Jody Barrow saying that he expected additional conversations on the renovation and replacement options.
Board member Diane Basham questioned “putting $11-12 million into what we (currently) have to give some level of functionality.” Like Presberg, Basham called renovation a band-aid approach.
Pertaining to the idea of relocating the school, Satterfield said he had not spoken with anyone about acquiring land for that purpose. Chairman Barry Marchman added that there are land-swap opportunities to be considered.
Barrow at the end of the discussion again noted that the school board will continue to discuss the options.