Muscogee County School District considers eliminating, deferring some SPLOST projects; site for arts academy proposed

Muscogee County School District interim superintendent John Phillips proposed Monday night eliminating and deferring millions of dollars worth of projects to make up a shortfall expected to be as much as $40 million in the $223,155,784 list voters approved to fund in 2009 with a 1 percent sales tax.

The $17,756,250 worth of projects Phillips recommends eliminating are: $6,725,000 to renovate the 29th Street facility housing the shop program for the Academic Success Center; $6,075,000 for a new adult education building on the Daniel Center site; $4,956,250 for renovating Daniel to accommodate Academic Success. These cuts would eliminate the Academic Success Center, a program for about 200 secondary education students who struggled academically at regular school. Those students would be brought back to their home schools.

Phillips also recommends deferring $19,568,977: $7,000,000 for a system-wide gym at Fort Middle School; $5,000,000 for technology; $3,000,000 for a system-wide athletics facility; $2,633,977 for furniture fixtures and equipment; $1,000,000 for Jordan High's auditorium; and $935,000 for security equipment.

All of which would help preserve the arts academy project, now expected to cost abougt $30 million, Phillips said. He proposed building the facility for 500 students in grades 6-12 on MCSD property behind the Columbus Public Library and the city's service center and natatorium under construction.

After the meeting, board chairwoman Cathy Williams said she supports the proposal and praised the administration for its work."We’re trying to be very diligent in how we extend these precious resources," she said. "None of this is painless. Not everybody got everything they wanted. There are things in this list that are special to a lot of people, but these are tough decisions and tough times."