Richmond Co. BOE discusses SPLOST projects

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August 24, 2006

The Richmond County Board of Education has their thoughts on your pennies, and the SPLOST projects were the topic of their 5 o'clock meeting today.

The proposed projects could mean new schools and renovations across the county.

South Augusta's real estate growth is funneling more kids into schools there. Two new elementary schools opened this year, and some leaders say a new middle school there is desperately needed.

Richmond County School Board members discussed renewing the penny sales tax for projects that voters could see on the ballot in November.

Principal Hartley Gibbons of the congested Glenn Hills Middle School says the overcrowding will continue with the new developments coming to south Augusta.

"We have 15 portables at the school this year, and yes, it is unusual," he says.

Richmond County School Board members are looking at ways to relieve overcrowding at schools like Glenn Hills Middle through SPLOST 3, renewing the penny sales tax that taxpayers are already paying.

Board member A.K. Hasan says the list of projects is impressive, and he supports the penny sales tax.

"We are trying to do away with all portables in Richmond County," he says. "We want all students to be housed in our main buildings during the educational process."

The proposed penny sales tax will raise a little more than $220 million for the school board, which would be collected over five years.

The money would be used for additional projects like a new magnet school, renovated gymnasiums, air conditioning on school buses, panic buttons in schools that don't have them, and expanding Freedom Park Elementary.

"We are going to add some middle grades to Freedom Park Elementary out on Fort Gordon, and that will help to relieve overcrowding at Glenn Hills Middle," Hasan says.

"We will need more middle schools," says Gibbons. "That is a concern, because there are several middle schools overcrowded."

Board members tonight are looking over the plan, prioritizing projects and finalizing what could go to voters in the November referendum.

The list has to be approved by Monday for Richmond County to get $6 million from the state to go toward those projects.