New school construction, rezoning underway for Columbia Co.

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012

EVANS, Ga. -- You could call them growing pains for Columbia County, one of the fastest growing counties in the state.

Phase one of its $95 million dollar building plan is underway and that means rezoning some school boundaries. The school district wants your feedback about the new lines.

At this time next year, Columbia County will have two brand new schools. Work is underway to rebuild Evans Elementary School and Columbia Middle School.

"They've been talking about this for probably about five years," said Martinez Elementary parent Gina Rosier.

Rosier thought her daughter would have to change schools, but now she's in fifth grade and is heading to middle school next year.

"I'm kind of relieved that it won't affect us, because I won't have to worry about getting her to the other school because it's so far away," she said.

But more than 800 students will be affected by phase one of the county's plan, which rebuilds three of the old schools and shuts down Bel Air Elementary.

"In this situation, we're closing Bel Air, so there's not really an option of moving to another school -- it's where the boundaries are going go to be drawn if they move to Evans Elementary or Martinez Elementary," said Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Robert Jarrell.

Overcrowding in some schools and aging buildings, some more than 50 years old, is the main drive behind the changes.

"There's a lot of growth everywhere. There's a lot of new houses going up in this area, all the time," Rosier said.

"We did a study a few years ago with the age of some of our buildings and the cost it would take to bring them up to standards, so to speak, and it was really cost efficient to build new buildings," Jarrell said.

"Progress and growth, they have to do this, but I just don't like change," Rosier said.

But Rosier is concerned the moves could change the family atmosphere at some of the older schools.

"You come in and they all know your children and I just worry that this is going to be different when these children come back," she said.

On Tuesday night, the school system is having a meeting 6:30 p.m. at Evans Elementary to show off the plans. There will be another one Sept. 27 at Bel Air Elementary. Rezoning meetings for Columbia Middle School will take place next month.

Remember: All of the construction is being paid for with your sales tax dollars.

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