Schools' building projects ongoing

ALBANY, Ga. -- Even though the economy has resulted in officials shifting some of their priorities, growth and progress continue to be made within the Dougherty County School System.

The Dougherty County Board of Education Building and Grounds committee received a report on construction items -- both pending and ongoing -- Friday morning.

The first item on the meeting's agenda was a change order for Albany High School that will impact the school's career center -- a new conference room for the school's counselors.

"Most of this was the principal's idea, although there was counselor input," said DCSS Construction Manager Tony Reese. "We were able to shift some things around (in the career center) to have the same number of computers."

The conference room, which will cost $9,300 to construct, is being carved out of the school's career center, reducing the size of the center. The committee recommended the project for board approval, which means it will go before the full School Board at a later meeting.

Another item on the project list is the air-conditioning unit at the school system's police department. The current three-ton unit, which is 21 years old, is operating for a facility that is 2,300 square feet.

"You can't cool a 2,300-square-foot space with a three-ton unit," said Bob Fowler, assistant director of facilities and capital for the school system.

The engineers for the upgrade project are recommending a five-ton unit, as well as new duct work. While discussing this item, Committee member Darrel Ealum and Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Goseer both suggested the possibility of relocating the police department to another facility rather than continuing upgrades to the building the department is in now.

After several minutes of discussion, the committee eventually decided to table the item.

Among the ongoing projects is the re-roofing of Northside Elementary School, which ran into a complication after the architect involved with the project detected a significant amount of wet insulation under the roof.

"This is way more water damage than we could have expected," Fowler said. "There was no way we could have anticipated what we have here."

Wet thermal insulation was found in 37 percent of the area being worked on. That's expected to cost an additional $100,000, bringing the total price tag for the project to more than $550,000. A motion was made by Ealum to take this issue to the full board, which was approved.

Another topic of discussion was the progress anticipated for Dougherty High School, specifically in what order the progress was to be made. Some of the work that needs to be done, aside from the Center of Excellence, includes work on the school's auditorium, the addition of some classrooms, final work on the gym and renovations of the administrative area.

The recommendation that came down from the committee was to do the work in two phases with the first phase being the Center of Excellence. Construction of Phase I is set to begin later this year at a cost of $6.8 million.

The remainder of the work is expected to cost $8 million.

Before the meeting adjourned, the committee was updated on the status of the five-year facilities plan. The documents for the school system are in place to go to John Ramage, the state facilities consultant for the Southwest Georgia region. From there, Ramage is expected to help get Dougherty's plan in a position to present to state officials.

Once state representatives have had the opportunity to review it, the plan will come back to Dougherty officials at the end of this month. After that, DCSS will go over it, call a Building and Grounds Committee meeting and eventually take it to the full board.

Once the board approves it, which should be in late May, it will make its way back to the state.