County takes first steps in Pepperell Middle demo

The demolition of Pepperell Middle School began Monday as work crews started bringing in equipment to clear the site.

Demolition and abatement of Pepperell Middle School began Monday as work crews started clearing the site to prepare for a new facility with construction starting this fall.

Abatement will take about eight to 10 days, Superintendent Jeff Wilson said. Parts of the building will be demolished so crews can have full access to the building, he added, with the rest of the building to come down later.

The new school will sit on the same property as the older building. Once the site has been cleared, the board will have to wait for their capital outlay request from the State of Georgia to be approved, a process that is estimated to be completed around the first of September.

A timeline for completion of the project has not yet been set since the board has not bid out a construction manager at risk to oversee the work.

The project is being paid for through a 1-cent education local option sales tax and currently is estimated in be around $20 million. Since the project is in the planning phase a final cost is yet to be determined.

The system is putting exit-only doors and fewer entrances to enhance security, Director of Facilities David Van Hook said at a previous board meeting. The school will also have its media center and lunchroom closer to the front office since these are the most visited parts of a school, adding an extra layer of security.

While planning for Pepperell Middle is underway, Floyd County Schools is also beginning to develop a new five-year facility plan.

The new plan will be ready by March 2020, but in the meantime the system will be evaluating other facility needs, like whether or not to keep Pepperell eighth graders at Pepperell High after the new middle school is completed.

While Pepperell Middle is being constructed, the eighth-graders are being housed at PHS. The Eighth Grade Academy will be a separate wing at the high school according to letters sent home by the school. There have also been meetings with the local school governance teams about the transition while the new middle school is being constructed.

The remaining sixth and seventh graders will be housed at what is now the former McHenry Primary building.

The over 100-year-old primary McHenry closed at the end of the 2018-2019 school year with its students now to attend Pepperell Primary in the fall.