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What Hall Schools wants to spend nearly $15 million on in 2020
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Left, Matt Cox, executive director of facilities and construction, discusses the proposed 2020 projects for Hall County Schools before the Board of Education on Monday, Oct. 28. - photo by Kelsey Podo

With 2020 around the corner, Hall County Schools is already turning its gaze toward next year’s projects. 

Matt Cox, executive director of facilities and construction, presented a list of 10 proposed projects for 2020 during the Hall County Schools Board of Education meeting on Monday, Oct. 28. 

All of the numbers generated in the preliminary report were based off of the unit price values from past Hall County Schools projects of similar size and type. The preliminary total of all projects is $14.7 million; $13.7 of which would come out of the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and $1 million of which would come out of the Howard E. Ivester Early College donation from Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation.

Cox recommended allotting $3.8 million to build an automotive lab for Chestatee High School as well as update its construction lab. 

Superintendent Will Schofield reminded the board that they had a conversation about the addition and renovations a year ago. 

“That’s what the students wanted, that’s what the job market was demanding,” Schofield said. 

Students at Chestatee have already started taking the initial course for the class that would be held in the automotive lab. With the second level courses, Schofield said the automotive lab is necessary. 

The board held a vote to continue working with Robertson Loia Roof, PC for the project. The motion passed 4-1 with Mark Pettitt voting in opposition. 

“I think it’s premature at this point to secure a design architect,” Pettitt said.

In the proposal West Hall High School would receive a $1 million manufacturing lab.

Schofield said this would be the district’s first manufacturing science program if the lab’s plans followed through. 

Spout Springs Elementary might also see some improvements this year with $1.2 million going to site improvements, including separating the car rider and bus sections, and $275,000 for constructing a learning commons. 

Cox said the school’s current media center was built for 600 kids. The school now has around 850 students. The proposed renovations would open up the space to accommodate its growth. 

“It’s really going to help them and serve them better,” Cox said. 

The proposal puts $550,000 toward replacing fire alarms in Marin Technology Academy, Sugar Hill Academy of Talent & Career and Chicopee Woods Elementary. It also recommends allotting $1.4 million to installing LED lighting at the baseball and softball fields at East Hall High School, Johnson High School, North Hall High School and West Hall High School. 

Cox advised rolling out a $2.5 million plan for the safety intercom system by finishing up the installations for the district’s seven high schools. 

Schofield said the district is probably looking at putting around $8 million over the next several years toward updating all of the schools’ intercom systems. 

“We don’t have coconut and strings, but it’s pretty close in some of our schools in terms of the intercoms that we have,” he said. “We figured without a shadow of a doubt that seven traditional high schools were the place to start.”

Each year, Cox recommends placing $2 million as a placeholder for miscellaneous small projects in the district. He made the same recommendation on Monday, stating that it comes in handy for minor renovations. 

He said the system typically only spends $1.1-$1.6 million of that amount. 

With the 2020 project proposal, Howard E. Ivester Early College would undergo the second phase of its health care and sciences lab.The $1 million cost of the renovations would be funded through a portion of the $2.2 million previous donation from the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation.

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