By Lisa Kopochinski
COWETA COUNTY, Ga.—Construction of Shaw Road Middle School in Coweta will continue this fall, approximately one year after the project was put on hold.
The Coweta County Board of Education voted 6-1 at a spring meeting to move ahead with construction.
“If all goes according to our anticipated two-year timeline, we would break ground this fall and open in the fall of 2021,” said School Superintendent Steve Barker.
The school system plans to retain the services of J&R Construction, its original construction manager at risk.
“Now that the board has voted to move forward, J&R Construction will prepare to conduct the competitive bid process once the final plans are prepared,” said Barker.
Manley, Spangler, Smith Architects will also finalize plans for the revised project, which is expected to align more closely with the original $30 million budget
After initial estimates came in at more than $6 million over budget, a scaled-down version of the original design of the school was created. The revised design includes architectural elements such as multiple skylights, an enclosed design and interior corridors for mechanical and electrical equipment, in addition to 56 instruction units, instead of the original 63.
“We took the plan that came in higher than around our budget, and we began to look at the project and see how they could get the project more in line with the budget,” explained Barker. “One of the things we did is to look at just how big the school needed to be initially. It can be added onto later.”
Originally, the school was scheduled to open in 2020. But with cost being a factor—along with traffic concerns and potential enrollment growth in other areas of the county—the project was put on hold.
Work sessions were held in December and January to allow board members to analyze current enrollment trends, facility use and district lines. The sessions also incorporated projections for future growth in both Coweta County and Newnan County, in addition to the results of a traffic study commissioned by the school system.
Enrollment projections in Coweta County have shown no decline in school population at the middle school level. However, two other nearby middle schools—Lee and Madras— both of which have been at 300 students over capacity for some time, will need permanent relief.
Barker said community input gathered during those meetings indicated Coweta residents were overwhelmingly in favor of building a new school, but added that it is impossible to make precise predictions about enrollment years in advance.
“There is absolutely no way for us to predict what two, three, four, five years out is exactly going to look like, but we have done a very thorough research process in looking at all of our information,” he remarked. “We need to do a facility addition of some sort to serve our middle school students.”