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Board of Education retreat this weekend
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For the second year in a row, the Bryan County Schools Board of Education and top administrators will hold a retreat on Jekyll Island to discuss the district’s future.

“The board and I thought last year’s retreat was extremely successful,” Superintendent Paul Brooksher said. “All of the board members have jobs, so to be able to spend time together and really talk at length about the issues is a great opportunity.”

The retreat starts at 9:30 a.m. Friday at The Westin on Jekyll Island and concludes at noon Saturday. Brooksher said the cost will be about the same as last year — roughly $3,000 — since the retreat is being held at the same location.

The agenda Friday will focus primarily on budget matters and capital projects, while Saturday is slated for board member training that is required by the Georgia School Boards Association.

It was at last year’s retreat that Brooksher told the board that enrollment projections showed an additional 3,500 students in the district within 10 years. All but 200 of that increase is expected to be in South Bryan County. From that discussion, the board began to address the need for a new Richmond Hill High School.

In the ensuing months, the board held public forums on the matter, conducted online surveys and asked voters to approve a $100 million bond and renew the E-SPLOST levy. Those both passed in March.

“I think we would have gotten to this point, although maybe not as quickly if it weren’t for the retreat last year,” Brooksher said. “That really helped facilitate what we had been talking about a little bit at a time.”

Brooksher said the new high school will be a part of this year’s discussions.

“We also have several buildings that need renovations, so we need to figure out the timeline for all that,” he said.

Also on tap is a discussion about closing Lanier Primary School and expanding Bryan County Elementary School to accommodate more students. The district conducted an online survey about the matter earlier in April.

“The board has the results and they have been reviewing them and the comments before making a decision,” Brooksher said.

Estimates show the district could save up to $1 million annually in operating costs by closing LPS, and another $1.5 million in planned renovations this summer at the school could be directed elsewhere.

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