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DCSS Awards $16 million contract for Dougherty High renovation

ALBANY — The Dougherty County School Board has voted unanimously to award a $16.2 million contract to CGM Construction Group of Colquitt for Phase II renovation work at Dougherty High School.

School system officials estimate the extensive renovations will take 14 to 16 months to complete. CGM, which has renovated several DCSS schools in the past, submitted the apparent lowest bid of five firms vying for the contract.

The work at Dougherty is expected to begin before the end of the year. In the meantime, current DHS students have been moved to the recently closed Dougherty Middle School. When completed, the entire project is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $25 million.

The board also approved making an application for $2 million in Georgia Department of Education capital outlay funding that would be applied toward the Phase II construction at Monroe High School to supplement local tax dollars. The board accepted the Building and Ground’s Committee’s recommendation to raze the old two-story classroom in the rear of the school and rebuild 24 classrooms, the school’s ROTC building and annex instead of renovating.

Prior to the work session Monday night, the Albany Downtown Sertoma Club (ADS) signed an agreement with the Dougherty County BOE to provide $500 in scholarships to hearing impaired students graduating and moving on for further education. Sertoma International’s primary focus is the hearing impaired.

In other action items, the board approved a resolution drawn up by DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman requesting the state legislature approve a monthly stipend raise for board members. The resolution asks the state approval to raise the monthly stipend from $250 to $1,000 per month for members, $1,100 for the BOE vice chairman and $1,200 for chairman.

The vote was 5-2 with Robert Youngblood and chair Carol Tharin voting against the proposed raise.

“I think a raise in the board stipend is long overdue. It’s really just a matter of fairness,” Ealum, who has not accepted a stipend check during his nearly three years on the board, said. “We are working for pennies an hour. When you look at what the city and county commissions are paid, are we really that far down the totem pole?”

The raise, which must be ultimately approved by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, would bring the School Board’s monthly stipend in line with the city and county commissions’ monthly pay of $1,250 and $800, respectively.

“I respectfully disagree with Mr. Ealum,” Tharin said. “Right now our financial situation is dire and we are trying to balance our budget. I don’t think we are paid enough, but I have a problem with the timing of this.”

Coleman said if the state does approve the stipend raise, it would likely not take place until the start of fiscal year 2014-15

The board also approved a litany of requests from the DCSS Instructional Services Committee to adjust the system’s dual enrollment policy, testing policy, grading systems, graduation requirements and acceptance of transfer credits and or grades.

The next board meeting is set for 11 a.m. on Aug. 21 at the school administration building.