Money well spent

Published 7:30 pm Friday, February 13, 2009

The new Bainbridge High School, set to open for students’ first day of classes in August, is a great achievement and the product of hard work by untold numbers of people working together toward a common goal.

Groundbreaking on the new high school began on March 8, 2007.

In March 2008, the school was 49 percent done, and as of Feb. 4, 2009, it was 92 percent complete. To finish such an enormous project within two years says a lot about the architect, Altman and Barrett, the principal contractors, Allstate/JCI, public school officials and others who have helped the project progress smoothly with no significant problems.

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The bid on the high school’s construction was $47 million. Of that amount, the State of Georgia contributed $15 million. None of the new school’s cost will be borne by property taxes, which are levied to fund the schools’ general budget.

Fortunately, contracted costs for building materials, such as concrete, piping and electrical wiring, were locked in back at the project’s start, before the fuel price spike of 2008 and the current economic downturn worsened, School Superintendent Ralph Jones said. That helped keep the project, a school designed to accommodate more than 1,600 students with room to grow, both affordable and feasible, he said.

A tour of the school reinforces the oversight that contractors, Jones and Jerry Mills, the head of maintenance and construction for county schools, have put into the project to make sure nothing is extravagant. Instead, much time and planning was put into ensuring the students, teachers and administrators will have the space they need to educate tomorrow’s workers and leaders.

The Decatur County school system will pay off the rest of the cost using its share of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (or E-SPLOST), which local voters recently renewed for another five years.

Since Decatur County schools began receiving money from sales tax receipts 10 years ago, it has been used to pay for the cost of the new West Bainbridge Elementary School and renovations to the current Bainbridge High School, Hutto Middle School and John Johnson Elementary School, Jones said.

We support Superintendent Jones’ and other local leaders’ simple request: shop locally, as much as you can. Doing so has and will continue to provide an abundant bounty to help our community thrive.