School board applies for $5.89 million state grant for Booth

J.C. Booth Middle School on Peachtree Parkway South in Peachtree City. File photo.
J.C. Booth Middle School on Peachtree Parkway South in Peachtree City. File photo.

Regardless of the outcome of the question about the future of Booth Middle School in Peachtree City, what is known is that the Fayette County Board of Education would need to apply for a nearly $6 million state grant for which Booth is eligible.

That was the action taken Oct. 21, as the school board voted unanimously to apply for a state grant totaling $5.89 million.

The school board in recent meetings has discussed two options for Booth. Option 1 is a “transformational” re-build at the current site at an estimated $40 million, presumably minus approximately $6 million state grant, while Option 2 is a replacement school to be built in eastern Peachtree City off a now-unpaved Stagecoach Road and a neighborhood street, Carriage Lane, that comes with a guaranteed maximum price of $46 million.

Superintendent Jody Barrow prior to the vote said submitting the grant application by the Nov. 1 deadline would provide the potential for having the funding included in the FY 2021 State Capital Outlay Projects list.

“We have to submit the application by Nov. 1 to be eligible for the grant, regardless if we renovate or replace the school,” Barrow said. “We don’t know yet exactly where we’re going (with the decision on Booth), but if we want to get those capital outlay dollars, we have to apply for them and it has to be approved by the board.”

Though no time frame has been established, the school board will eventually make a decision on either building a replacement middle school on Stagecoach Road or approving a transformational rebuild of the existing school on South Peachtree Parkway.

Pivotal to the option of constructing a replacement school would be the requirement to improve city roads in the area which would be impacted by a new school. It would be up to Peachtree City to supply the funds to improve Carriage Lane and Stagecoach Road, since both are city streets, and because the school system is prohibited from spending funds outside school system property. Improvements could also be required by the Ga. Department of Transportation at Carriage Lane and Hwy. 54 and at the intersection at Robinson and Hwy. 54.

Weighing-in on the topic, Peachtree City Mayor at a Sept. 25 public hearing on the future of Booth said, “Please accept this letter as formal notice of our opposition to the Stagecoach Road/Carriage Lane location for the construction of a proposed new middle school. With very limited improvement options, this site will place an undue burden on the transportation network in the immediate vicinity. Based on our previous experience, traffic improvements can easily reach millions of dollars with limited impact on mobility within the corridor. No such funds are included in the current or future Peachtree City budgets. Further, we request that a comprehensive traffic study be conducted that incorporates the impact of the school, along with proposed new development in the area, before a final decision is made on the location of a new school.”