Booth faculty wants most costly option: Build $40 million new school

J.C. Booth Middle School in Peachtree City, off South Peachtree Parkway. Photo/Ben Nelms.
J.C. Booth Middle School in Peachtree City, off South Peachtree Parkway. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Margin was 64-to-2 for new site on Stagecoach Road; upgrading old building least costly at $28 million —

A survey of groups that would be impacted by a decision on the future of Booth Middle School in Peachtree City was discussed at the Feb. 4 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education. School board members will hear a more definitive breakdown on the potential options, and associated costs, at the Feb. 25 meeting.

School system officials conducted meetings with the school council, PTO members, the faculty and community members to gauge their perspective on potential options for Booth.

School system staff provided information of three of the options (Option 2, 3 and 5) for Booth’s future and asked participants to score them from 1-3, with a “1” indicating the highest preference.

Option 2 would include extensive renovation to the existing building with gym, kitchen, office and a classroom addition to accommodate 1,400 students. The estimated cost is $28 million.

Option 3 would include extensive renovation to the existing building with a kitchen addition, along with gym, office and a classroom addition to accommodate 1,400 students. The option also included relocating the existing football field to the south of the existing building. The estimated cost is $30 million.

Option 5 would include constructing a new 1,400-student building on 37 acres of Stagecoach Road. The estimated cost is $40 million.

The largest group of participants were Booth faculty. Of the 66 survey participants, 64 preferred Option 5 as their top choice with two preferring Option 3 as the most desirable option.

The second largest group was made up of community members. Of the 36 participants, 24 preferred Option 5, while 14 selected Option 3 and one chose Option 2.

A total of 14 PTO members also took the survey. Of those, 13 selected Option 5 while one preferred Option 3.

And with members of the student council, five preferred Option 5 and two chose Option 3.

A number of survey participants included comments with the selection.

The student council member commenting asked what accommodations would be made for golf carts if Option 5 was selected by the school board. The comment also asked if a cart tunnel to connect Booth and McIntosh High School would be considered.

The PTO member, who like nearly all others in that group selected Option 5, said the other options would lead to too much noise and disruption (presumably during the construction period).

Of the 66 faculty members participating, only two had comments. Both preferred Option 5.

One said, “The air quality (in the current building) is awful and we are all sick.”

The other faculty member said, “Sensory space and more safety features. Need full-size classrooms for teachers. Adaptive classrooms require more space. Storage for materials is imperative. More space for student activities.”

The community members taking the survey had significantly more comments, with 14 out of 36 respondents weighing-in.

One participant, who chose Option 3 said, “Save the new site for when you really need it. This school is great and can be made even better. Save the $10 million and focus on being No. 1 in education, not construction.”

Another community member, who also chose Option 3, said, “As a long time PTC resident, I do not like the idea of moving the school. It is centrally located now. Also, not being sure of what would go in the existing space. I don’t like the idea of something random in the middle of town.”

Another participant selecting Option 3 said, “Why build new when you can get what is needed in a renovation for less money. This is taxpayer money that is being spent.”

Yet another community members selecting Option 3 remarked, “More community involvement needed. Heard about meeting by word of mouth. Not only does this impact the school, but the community.”

Others from the community felt the current location in the central part of the city was best or questioned what might become of the current campus space if the school were relocated.

Facilities Director Mike Satterfield and Assistant Superintendent of Operations Mike Sanders at the Feb. 4 meeting reiterated the concern voiced by some at the survey meetings over what might replace the school at the current Booth campus is relocated.

School board members on Feb. 4 wanted to obtain additional information pertaining to the costs associated with each of the options, including two that were not part of the survey.

The amount of local and state money that is expected to be available, along with the various options, also have to be figured into those net costs. That information will be presented at the Feb. 25 meeting.

“We will have five versions we will share with the board and they will have projected costs for both new construction and renovation,” Superintendent Jody Barrow said, adding that the number will not be firm until the school system goes through the bid process.