The Muscogee County School Board on Monday night unanimously authorized superintendent David Lewis’ request to seek nearly $20 million from the state to help fund 22 capital projects.
The capital outlay project application for state entitlement money amounts to $19,868,442. The Muscogee County School District projects are listed in order of priority:
1. Hardaway High School modifications
2. Shaw High School renovations
3. Lonnie Jackson Academy modifications
4. Georgetown Elementary School modifications
5. Arnold Magnet Academy modifications
6. Eddy Middle School modifications
7. Johnson Elementary School modifications
8. Dimon Magnet Academy modifications
9. Mathews Elementary School modifications
10. South Columbus Elementary School modifications
11. Britt David Magnet Academy modifications
12. Forrest Road Elementary School modifications
13. Brewer Elementary School modifications
14. Fox Elementary School modifications
15. Jordan Vocational High School modifications
16. Kendrick High School modifications
17. Columbus High School additions
18. Hannan Magnet Academy modifications
19. Wynnton Arts Academy modifications
20. Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy modifications
21. Blackmon Road Middle School modifications
22. Dawson Elementary School modifications
Autism center approval
The board also unanimously approved spending as much as $70,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment for the autism center, scheduled to open in January at Jordan Vocational High School. The center will be contained in a remodeled vacant wing and comprise five classrooms, an office and rooms for training/conference, planning/lounge, transition, therapy and family living, according to the meeting’s agenda.
The autism center will serve 40-45 Muscogee County School District high school students whose individual education plan calls for them to be in a self-contained classroom, MCSD special-education director Mary Lewis told the Ledger-Enquirer after the meeting. Autistic students still will be served in other MCSD high schools, she emphasized.
“The difference will be that they will have the option to go where people will have more training and they can get more support,” she said. “It’s a way to really combine our resources so we can help more students.
“Right now, if I have two people who help students in every high school, two people can only be in so many places. Whereas, if I have a school focused on extra training and the supports are there, then you have somebody right there, as opposed to calling somebody and asking them to come and observe.”
The 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that Columbus voters approved in 2015 to fund 24 projects totaling $192,185,000 includes $3.5 million to retrofit one wing of classrooms in a high school, a middle school and an elementary school to better serve autistic students. The middle school and elementary school that will house autism centers haven’t been announced.
Other approved items
These were also unanimously approved on Monday night:
▪ Hiring architect Ron Murray of the Columbus firm Neal, Kendust & Murray for the reroofing project at Fort Middle School. The project, estimated to cost $1,220,000, has $773,437 earmarked in 2015 SPLOST revenue, and the rest is expected to come from state capital outlay funds.
▪ Awarding contracts to EmployBridge/Westaff and Staffing Connections not to exceed $1.5 million for temporary agency services in 2017.
▪ Purchase of Microsoft software licenses from SH1 International Corporation totaling $366,983 for the period of Dec. 1, 2016, through Nov. 30, 2017.
▪ Award a $265,540 contract to Verizon Wireless for cellular services during the period of July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. Verizon has provided MCSD’s cellular service for the past six years, according to the agenda.
▪ Spend an estimated $310,000 in fiscal year 2018 to participate in the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy, a nontraditional teacher preparation program. According to the agenda, the MCSD administration says, “GaTAPP has the potential to serve as a recruitment incentive for individuals with bachelor’s degrees outside of education to pursue a career with MCSD, which is critical as the teacher shortages in Georgia and across the nation continue to increase.”