October 9, 2013 10:29:15 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
In order to meet the needs of their ever growing population, the Lowndes County School system is expanding. During Monday night's school board meeting, board members voted 4-1 to approve a motion to build a new elementary school on the Caledonia campus. Board member Jacqueline Gray was the dissenting vote. With more than 1,100 students in kindergarten through third grade, the building is filled to capacity. Until the school is constructed, school officials are bringing in trailers and moving some of the crowded classrooms out of the building.
A master plan drawn up by Columbus architecture firm Johnson Bailey Henderson McNeel shows that in addition to the new elementary school, a new middle school is in the works for Caledonia as well. The elementary school will be located at the south end of the campus and cost the district an estimated $16 million. The new middle school will cost the district an estimated $5.5 million. According to JBHM's estimates, the new elementary school should be completed and ready for the 2015-2016 school year.
Noting Caledonia's growth, Superintendent Lynn Wright said a new elementary school is a necessity.
"We have to provide adequate facilities for our students and Caledonia has been growing by leaps and bounds," Wright said. "They are busting at the seams right now. We're trying to do everything we can to meet their needs and the most critical need we have at Caledonia is a new elementary school and we're real excited about that."
The district also hopes to build additions to the New Hope and West Lowndes campuses, for a total of eight new projects and expansions, Wright said. When all is said and done, the cost to the district will be an estimated $43 million.
Wright said he feels the master plan for the district will provide opportunities to students and the community.
"I think people will be excited that we're trying to provide more opportunities for our students, to be successful by going forward with the career tech center, trying to upgrade some of our buildings with some much-needed building projects," Wright said.
"We hope it will be something that will benefit our students and our community for years to come."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.