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Bulloch BOE holds monthly meeting; discusses replacement school for Portal

What to do about Portal Middle/High School was the main topic Thursday during a work session of the Bulloch County Board of Education at William James Educational Complex
    The discussion focused on a replacement school for Portal. Charles Wilson, assistant superintendent of business and finance, shared that the state requires a minimum of 36 instructional units to serve 600 students. Instructional units are spaces such as classrooms, laboratories, media centers and other areas used for instruction. Portal currently has less than 500 students and 10 existing units. A minimum of 26 additional classes, labs, etc. would have to be constructed to comply with state regulations.
    Discussion also included debate concerning renovation of the gymnasium versus construction of a new gym. Concern was expressed that gymnasium work would take funds from other projects in the school system.
    Last month, Wilson said the system is studying ways to best handle crowded conditions at Langston Chapel, Mill Creek and Brooklet elementaries and at Southeast Bulloch and Langston Chapel middle schools.
    Board member Susan Riley said: “Let’s get them the classroom space. But we’re not in a position to fulfill all those needs with kids at other schools with needs. We’ve got to love every kid in this system. We can’t leave kids out in mobile units.”
    Wilson said that schools in neighboring counties are building additional classrooms similar to the classrooms needed in Bulloch County, and he would be better able to provide an estimate for classrooms once he saw the bids for those projects.
    Also, board member Edwin Hill expressed concern about the time involved to get a new Portal Middle/High built and operational.
    Craig Buckley, an architect with James W. Buckley and Associates, said that if the board were to decide to proceed immediately that to get to a groundbreaking would take 12 months. The 12 months would be used to acquire land, do surveys, site work, design and complete working drawings. After groundbreaking, Butler estimated that construction would take 16 to 18 months.
    Board Chair David Ball said: “We just need to decide what we’re going to do on this school. I just want to say what our parameters are.”
    The board asked Wilson to develop an estimate using the concerns of the board to proceed with the Portal school and to be able to meet the needs of the other schools in the system. Additional input into the Portal school would be sought from the faculty, principal and community. The board will meet again in April to further discuss the facilities update.
    Ball then called a special session to order to discuss the Superintendent of Schools Search Brochure. The item was tabled to a later date to allow time for clarification of language regarding qualifications for a replacement for Dr. Jessie Strickland, who announced last month she would retire effective July 1, 2007.

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