Construction on Richmond Co. schools will displace students

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, June 4, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Summer vacation is underway for Richmond County students, and while they're enjoying time away from exams, parents are stressing out about where their children will be attending school in the fall.

Rayon Huff can't wait to be a sixth grader at Murphey Middle School.

"I'm excited because I get to learn new stuff and all, plus I'm good at science," he said.

But he isn't too sure what to expect because construction on Murphey Middle School just started.

This was news to his mother, Dorothy Johnson, who said, "The only thing that I got told is, it wasn't from the school board, teachers or the school. My son came home a week before school was out and told me, 'Mom, they're moving us to the old alternative school,' which is Bungalow Hill Elementary."

Right now, Bungalow Hill looks like a mobile home park because of the modular units everywhere to house students. Richmond County started construction on several schools this summer, and some won't be ready when school goes back into session.

Benton Starks, the senior director for Facility Services, told News 12 which schools are currently undergoing construction.

"Right now we're working on the Laney High Project, Butler High Project, Murphey Middle School, Westside High School, Sue Reynolds Elementary, all of these projects are underway in some form or fashion."

All of that construction translates into big changes for students in the fall. At Butler High School, workers have already started on the modular buildings that could be used for the next three years while construction projects are completed.

Taquilla Johnson, who is supposed to attend Butler High school, said, "They ain't told us a lot about it. We just know we're getting a new building."

But some parents are upset because this is all news to them, too.

"What are they going to do with them? They need to inform us of what child, what zone, who is going where, what we need to do for registration before they have a lot of parents and children running around like a chicken with their head cut off," Johnson said.

School leaders say they plan to start sending out information about the construction changes to parents next week.

"By the time school starts, everyone will know where they need to go," Starks said.

But this does not reassure some parents like Johnson, who says, "It's like they're not keeping the parents informed. And then when you come to the school meeting and they ask why are these parents showing out there? And it's because they're not telling us what we need to know."

Next year, every classroom at Butler High School will be in modular buildings. Students at Laney High School will move to the Tubman Education Center. The alternative students will then be sent to Lamar Elementary. Murphey Middle School students will be going to the old alternative school building on Bungalow Road.

It's a lot of change all at once, so school leaders are asking for patience because this is a big undertaking. They say along with the construction will come changes for registration and different bus routes. We'll be sure to keep you posted on the construction.

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