The decision on the future of Booth Middle School in Peachtree City may be in the offing at the Nov. 4 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education, to be held at 7 p.m. at the Lafayette Education Center in Fayetteville. The only action item on the agenda will have the school board considering Option 2, the replacement school. In recent months the school board had been considering two options.
A one-paragraph, Oct. 30 letter from Assistant Superintendent Mike Sanders on the subject of the replacement school said, “Facilities Services has received a proposed GMP (guaranteed maximum price) from MEJA Construction in the amount of $40.625 million for the construction of the replacement school for J.C. Booth Middle School.
“In addition, to the GMP, additional costs will include architect, civil engineering and energy management fees of $2.8 million and technology equipment and classroom furniture of $2.55 million. Facilities Services recommends an overall project budget of $46 million,” said Sanders.
Though contained in the Oct. 30 letter, the price tag for the replacement school is nothing new. The $46 million cost was presented to the school board on Sept. 23. The replacement school, to be located between Stagecoach Road and Carriage Lane on Peachtree City’s west side, was referenced as Option 2.
Also at the Sept. 23 meeting, board members heard that Option 1, called the “transformational” model that would re-build the school at the existing site, would cost an estimated $40 million, minus the approximately $6 million in state grant funds, if approved.
The consideration for the transformational re-build was not included in the information packet for the Nov. 4 meeting.
ESPLOST (education special purpose local option sales tax) committee co-chair Neil Sullivan in a September letter to editor published in The Citizen had quite a bit to say about the money to be raised for school projects from the current ESPLOST. Some of his comments were aimed more at the $10 million amount for Booth listed in the ESPLOST, and the fact that nothing about Booth has changed since voters went to the polls to approve the ESPLOST.
“The majority of nearly $40 million funding required for either of these projects will come from the recently approved ESPLOST,” Sullivan said. “However, when the (school board) came to the public to request ‘ESPLOST III,’ they did not ask for more than $40 million for a new middle school; instead they asked for $10 million to renovate the gym and cafeteria at Booth as part of an approximate $70 million pool for repairs and improvements to all of our schools.”
Sullivan noted that his letter was not about whether or not to build a new Booth is warranted or necessary. The intent of the letter was “to raise a concern about the transparency of the process and completeness of the information.”
“While some suggest there is urgency needed for this decision, nothing has changed since before the ESPLOST election either in the structure of the building, student population, or excellent educational results. The only measurable change is in the amount of money the (school board) has to spend, thanks to the ESPLOST,” Sullivan continued. “At the $10 million discussed, Booth would have been approximately 13 percent of the renovations budget. Now we are talking about more than 50 percent of the current renovations budget, and nearly 25 percent of the total expected ESPLOST collections. What projects at which schools will be cancelled to pay for this school?”