The Seminole County Board of Education has announced that construction on the new K-12 school will begin on February 5. The anticipated completion date is December 2025.
The Seminole County Board of Education started planning for a new K-12 school building in July 2020. A Comprehensive Facility Assessment outlined the findings by Altman and Barrett Architects from Haihira, Georgia. The Assessment supported the need for a new school facility. Funding for the school comes from Georgia Department of Education Capital Outlay money. The school district qualifies for Low-Wealth Project Specific funding. The school district earned $37,264,568 capital outlay dollars from the state for the project. The school board is able to pay for the school with no additional ad valorem taxes and from the sale of public project bonds. On November 2, 2021, the citizens of Seminole County approved the E-SPLOST Referendum supporting the construction of a new school. Bond revenues to be spent on the project are $14,200,000.
In the decision to build the Seminole County School System a new K-12, the school system will have a new campus for the lowest tax burden on the citizens. Property for the new school was purchased from Rex and Raymond Thompson in December 2020 for $473,620.00. The property is next to the present Seminole County Middle High School on Highway 39.
The Georgia Department of Education will see the entire school at the funding level of a high school. This allows the school to obtain more funding than if it was separated into an elementary and a middle/high school. This design also allows the school system to have lower overhead cost. This new facility allows the school system to start fresh and not have to allocate money each year to the high repairs and failures that are occurring in the current buildings. Power bills will be lowered substantially and safety measures maximized.
There have been many delays in getting the project started. The first estimate for the new K-12 school was $43,606,253. Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, our nation, state, and local government entities have been fighting inflation, higher interest rates, and interruptions in the supply chain. The Seminole County Board of Education has also encountered the same obstacles. After the first set of architectural plans were drawn, the cost of the new school was $65,000,000. The Board has been able to secure only around $51,000,000 for the new school. Therefore, plans had to be redrawn by the architects, savings measures taken included relocating to ensure no programming benefit would be lost. Moving the building site allowed the Board to take advantage of the land and minimize the building cost.
This process has taken more years than were anticipated. Plans had to be approved a second time by the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia State Fire Marshall. Once approved, the construction management firm was able to set up the bidding process for subcontractors. Jones Construction Incorporated (JCI) from Moultrie, Georgia was selected by the board to be the builders of the school. JCI has built several schools in Southwest Georgia including Bainbridge High School, Colquitt County High School, Valdosta High School, and Calhoun County’s K-12 school.
The bids for the new school were opened on December 19. There was a 15 day vetting process for the subcontractors and a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) was presented to the Seminole County Board of Education on January 11 at a called meeting. The GMP of $50,749,149 was approved unanimously by the Board. This new school will serve the citizens of Seminole County for decades to come.
The Board of Education would like to thank the citizens of Seminole County for making this new school a reality.