The school board now has a new piece of property in South Bryan that one day could be the site of a new K-5 elementary school.
On Aug. 16, the board officially closed on the 27.79-acre parcel of land near the ball fields at DeVaul Henderson Park
The cost of the property, $416,850, was paid for with education special purpose local option sales tax dollars, Chairman Eddie Warren said Monday during a Bryan County Board of Education called meeting. He added the purchase price was less than 50 percent of the appraised value of the land.
Plans for the land were discussed some Monday along with other future “big ticket” capital projects for Bryan County Schools.
Though no action was taken regarding capital projects, much of the nearly three-hour meeting was spent prioritizing a wish list. Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher began the process by presenting the board with estimated growth members over the next few years.
Brooksher asked board members for their opinions about the biggest needs for Bryan County considering the estimated growth. The board agreed the top two priorities would be a new elementary school for each end the county.
Warren said he felt a new K-5 school in South Bryan is a bigger priority than a replacement school for Bryan County Elementary School in North Bryan.
“I would say, personally, that a new school on the south end would be a higher priority than a replacement school on the north end,” he said. “But I think, as a board, if we could try some way to work this out where we could do both of them at the same time, I think we can come off better with construction costs, architectural costs, et cetera.”
Brooksher gave the board members “food for thought” about the possibility for a K-5 school in North Bryan rather than a replacement Bryan County Elementary, which is grades 3-5.
“My personal recommendation on a replacement school in Bryan County in North Bryan is that it be strongly considered and discussed with the numbers we looked at, at looking at one facility that will house 900 students,” Brooksher said.
He added that consolidating the two schools would cut down on administrative costs and would be a way to be “good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
But board member Dennis Seger said he thought sticking with the current system of a primary and elementary school would be the way to go.
“I’ve always said if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” Seger said. “And I guarantee if you take a poll in this community — what we’ve got now works great.”
Brooksher also suggested the board consider fine arts as a priority. He said Richmond Hill Middle School had 300 students in band versus 68 students that dress out for football.
He said it is important for those students in fine arts to have a facility to showcase their talents, noting students must travel outside of Bryan County to have access to facilities with quality acoustics and lighting.
“Not everybody’s an athlete, but they sure do have some talent,” Brooksher said.
Seger agreed, noting that some students feel about band, chorus and drama the same way athletes feel about their sports.
The board also discussed athletic facilities like a new field house at Bryan County High School and upgrades to the football bleachers at Richmond Hill High School.