Editor's note: Updated to include rendering of new Richmond Hill High School, press release from Bryan County Schools included below story.
The Bryan County Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to begin work on phase I of the new Richmond Hill High School for a “guaranteed maximum price,” of slightly more than $97.89 million. That’s believed to be the most ever spent on a single taxpayer-funded undertaking by a local government in county history.
Statesboro-based Pope Construction is building the new high school, which was designed by the Savannah architectural firm of James W. Buckley and Associates and is slated to be finished by the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year.
To pay for the new high school and fund other capitol projects, voters approved a $100 million bond referendum in 2017 when it renewed ESPLOST. The new RHHS is projected to hold up to 3,700 students, and will sit on some 220 acres near the new Belfast Keller interchange.
The 2020 census showed Bryan County was the fastest growing county in Georgia and the sixth fastest in the U.S., and a good portion of that growth is attributed to the school system’s reputation for strong academics. The county’s population growth, from about 30,000 in 2010 to more than 44,000 in 2020, is reflected in the number of the schools going up.
Since 2012, Bryan County Schools has opened four new campuses – three of them within about a six mile radius in South Bryan and one in Pembroke. Construction of the four schools combined cost about $82 million.
2012: Richmond Hill Middle School opened at an approximate cost to build of $17 million
2015: McAllister Elementary and Bryan County Elementary opened. Combined approximate cost: $40 million.
2020: Frances Meeks Elementary opened. Approximate cost: $25 million.
Below is a copy and paste of the Bryan County Schools release to area media on Thursday night.
(Black Creek, GA) – At its November 18th board meeting, the Bryan County Board of Education approved the Guaranteed Maximum Price for the construction of Phase 1 of the new Richmond Hill High School. Board Chair Amy Murphy expressed, “The Bryan County Board of Education is pleased to approve the funding of Phase I of Richmond Hill High School. We are proud to support a replacement high school that will nurture and support the academic achievement of our students for decades into the future. Additionally, we are pleased the new school will contain a multitude of fine arts, career and technology opportunities, and extra-curricular facilities that support the development of the whole student. With the land donation and value engineering, we believe the new Richmond Hill High School will be a center of community pride and will continue to foster the tradition of educational excellence for our students”. The initial phase incudes construction of the 543,818 square foot state of the art 9-12 school that will be located off Belfast Keller Road.
Principal Bivins Miller affirmed, “This approval highlights the support of our Board of Education and stakeholders in Bryan County to provide our students with the very best resources while maintaining a vision that is Committed to Excellence and Success in ALL we do! To say that we are all excited is an understatement. Opening day will be a day to remember for ALL!”
The new Richmond Hill High School, designed by the architectural firm of James W. Buckley & Associates, is being built to replace the current Richmond Hill High School. The existing high school, with certain portions of the building dating back to 1981, houses 2,450 students. As the fastest growing county in the State of Georgia and the sixth fastest in the nation, this new facility will assist in alleviating current and future needs. The Guaranteed Maximum Price of $97,891,846 was awarded to Pope Construction Company and will be paid out of bond construction funds previously approved by the citizens of Bryan County; as well as, state capital outlay dollars.
“Considering COVID, cost escalation, supply chain issues, etc., it has been quite the journey to arrive at this point. I am extremely proud of the Board of Education, staff, architect, and construction manager who have never wavered and continue to work tirelessly to meet the needs of this amazing high-growth school system. This is just one piece of an extensive long-range capital projects plan for Bryan County Schools that extends through 2032.”, stated Dr. Paul Brooksher, Superintendent.
The school is expected to open in August 2024.