News 12 at This Morning / Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- More than 35 Richmond County schools are on the list of a five-year plan that aims to renovate, rebuild and upgrade school buildings.
Benton Starks, the senior director of facilities for Richmond County schools ,says the plan is to demolish older parts and rebuild the sections of the school.
The design phase is already underway, but the vote to continue the 1 percent sales tax to generate $142 million for school improvement projects will come in the spring. This is an investment Starks is hoping will save money for a district struggling with budget cuts.
"It will help the operating cost of the school system. It's one way to get the tax burden of the property owners in Richmond County," Starks explained.
Two of the biggest construction projects will be at Butler and Laney high schools.
"The two-story section of Butler, which is originally part of the high school, the plan calls for us the demo that. Tear it all down and build a whole new section," Starks said.
Similar plans are in store for Laney High School. Both schools have disjointed buildings, forcing students to walk outside to get to some of their classes. Laney High will hold on to the new administration area and a few classroom wings, which have opened within the last 10 years.
Starks says the three-story section of Laney will be demolished, replacing it with a more efficient building.
"When we build a new building, these buildings will come with materials that have less maintenance and less maintenance costs," Starks said.
He says he wants to cut down on utilities inside the schools through the small details, which all add up for a large district.
"Our utility bill is $6 million; if we save 10 percent by turning off the lights, you would save $600,000," Starks said.
Money he says will go back into the classroom.
For a full list of the projects you can view them at
You can view a full list of the projects here (PDF).