ALBANY, Ga. — Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker confirmed Thursday that the college and several officials of the Dougherty County School System have had "unofficial preliminary" talks about acquiring Southside Middle School.
"We have expressed interest in acquiring the property and have had unofficial preliminary discussions in regard to the matter," Parker said, adding "If the property becomes available."
Southside Middle's 10-acre property faces Newton Road and shares a common property line with ATC.
The college has recently complete an extensive Phase I expansion and future growth is inhibited because the school is landlocked.
"We've already got some buildings across Slappey (Boulevard) which is less than ideal," Parker said. "Newton Road is a boundary to the south, the state Department of Labor is on the north and Slappey is to the west. There is only one place for us to reasonably expand."
According to DCSS Assistant Facilities Director Bob Fowler, the Southside property and building are insured for $12.4 million and the Dougherty County Tax office has assessed the property at $7,500 an acre, or $75,000.
The school system is currently involved in contentious discussions concerning the possible closures of Sylvester Road Elementary and Dougherty Middle schools.
DCSS board member Lane Price confirmed that she and fellow board member Robert Youngblood had discussed Southside issue with Parker on Feb. 12.
"There is no doubt that we need to close some schools," Price said. "I want us to have all options available. Southside will come up at the information session and I plan on asking some hard questions."
Parker stressed that the college was not trying to take advantage of school system's current situation.
"We want to be as fair as we could possibly be, we would never take advantage of a neighbor," Parker said. "Besides, the school is still occupied, but we would never want to see another shuttered school in Albany.
"There is no pressure, but we are very serious (about a possible acquisition). I think ATC has improved the landscape of south Albany, and we'd do the same thing with the Southside property."