BOE considering plan to demolish ARC stadium, Lamar and build new facilities

Thursday, May 2, 2019
News 12 @ 11 O'clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's the fifth oldest high school in the country, and the oldest in the region, and many of its buildings could be changing in the coming years.

Academy of Richmond County, or ARC as the community calls it, was chartered in 1783 and holds hundreds of years of history. Alumni and students want to make sure it's future is in good hands.

As you cruise down the magnolia-lived driveway at ARC, it's like taking a step back in time. The stately main brick building and historic campus hold memories and lessons more than 230 years old.

"This school is history, a very long history," said one alumni as the Richmond County BOE presented their plans to renovate the school and campus.

Everyday, a new piece of history is made and the School System says they want to make sure it stays that way.

"ARC is one of our flagship schools and we think the students deserve to have flag ship facilities," said Kaden Jacobs, Director of Communications for the Richmond County School Systems.

They believe that means it's time for new facilities, and a full historic renovation. They're already approved to build 28 new math and science classrooms and labs in a 3-story addition to the main school building. That whole wing is set to be STEM and cyber-focused. The money to fund that portion of the project is coming from SPLOST Phase V.

"It's all to provide for the future alumni of ARC. to make sure they have things they're excited about with new history and stories to tell." said Jacobs.

Like the nearly 90-year-old football stadium. The district's master plan calls for tearing that down and making it a new practice field. The old practice field would house two new gyms and a JROTC building. The new stadium would move across Baker Avenue where the former Lamar Elementary, now Alternative School, stands.

We're talking big changes and more than $70 million dollars, and alumni aren't necessarily on board, questioning whether the changes were needed or worth the money, and where historic elements of the facilities would go.

"How are you going to save the brick pavers? That's my question that I'd like to know." said one alumni.

The plans hope to maintain that historic charm, with nods to the original structures within the new ones. The brick pavers may seem like a small aspect of the campus, but they're a piece of history these alumni don't want to lose.

There isn't an exact timeline on the project because nothing has been approved yet, besides the addition to the main building.
The funding would come from a future SPLOST phase, and the next vote for that isn't for a few years down the road.

Officials say the designs are just a concept and not a final look, and that we're very early on in the process.