The Bryan County Schools Board of Education took another step Thursday night toward securing land for a new high school and new elementary school in South Bryan.
The board voted to allow Chairman Eddie Warren and Superintendent Paul Brooksher to sign an agreement accepting a donation of 209 acres from Raydient Places + Properties, the real estate arm of Rayonier.
The acreage contains two different parcels, both of which are in the vicinity of the current Richmond Hill Middle School. Brooksher said the larger of the two parcels, approximately 179 acres, will be for the new high school, while the other 30 acres is for the new elementary school.
“We’re thankful to Rayonier for their foresight,” Brooksher said. “They have been great community partners to work with.”
The current middle school sits on nearly 100 acres that also was given to the school district by Rayonier in 2007.
Bryan County Schools expects to grow by some 3,500 students over the next decade. All but about 200 of that student growth is projected to be in South Bryan. Voters last February renewed the E-SPLOST levy and approved a $100 million bond for construction of the new schools.
Brooksher said the district is still on track to open the new elementary school in August 2020 and the new high school in August 2021. They would be the third and fourth new schools in the county since 2015 after the addition of Bryan County Elementary School and McAllister Middle School.
The new elementary school, slated to house 1,200 students, means that attendance boundaries will have to be redrawn. The district’s first time doing that came with the opening of McAllister.
“That is the new normal for as fast as we are growing,” Brooksher told the Bryan County News last year.
Once the new high school is complete, the district plans to renovate the east campus of the current Richmond Hill High School and create a second middle school, possibly by 2023. Brooksher said a second middle school will mean attendance boundaries will be needed for those grade levels, also.
Brooksher added that the west campus at the current high school will be torn down, giving the district another building site. Previous board discussion means that could be turned into a freshman-specific high school building, which would alleviate enrollment pressure on the new high school as it grows.
The land the district is receiving, as is the current middle school, is within some 5,000 owned by Rayonier that was recently annexed into the city of Richmond Hill. Brooksher said it is unlikely the school district would request a similar annexation.
“We have schools in both the city and the county and we receive great service from both,” he said.
In other business, the board approved spending $372,615 on five new buses and $18,000 on a new intercom system for Lanier Primary School.