Floyd County Board of Education

The cost of the new Armuchee High School gym is now estimated to be at least $2.5 million more than originally thought, as construction crews are expected to mobilize at the start of October, according to a facilities update.

The original estimate for the new gym, a piece of the Armuchee High ELOST project, was $6 million. The new estimate, not including architectural fees, is $8.5 million to $9 million. A final price is expected to be determined by next week.

Facilities Director David Van Hook said the school system generated $10 million from bond sales earlier this year for a new roof and HVAC system along with the initial construction of the new gym. However, in July, the Floyd County Board of Education members decided to do all external construction and improvements first, pushing the new gym to the first priority.

But Floyd County Schools cannot receive state capital outlay funding for the new gym. Under the original plan, the school system would have received more than $2 million in the reimbursement funding from the state for the roof and HVAC work.

In addition to rising construction costs, the increase in the projected cost of the gym is also due to the need for additional prep work, such as installing drainage and storm water systems. Superintendent Jeff Wilson said the work would have had to be completed at some point, regardless of when the gym construction began, just now the school system will be paying sooner.

Drawings of the new gym, which will be separate from the school, have been sent to the state Department of Education and Fire Marshal’s office for review, Van Hook said.

A called meeting is being planned for next week so the board can establish a guaranteed maximum price for the new gym.

Following the gym construction, work will then lead into field house renovations and football stadium improvements. Then work on the school will begin, starting with the new roof and HVAC system, followed by space additions and interior modernization. The total cost of the modernization is projected to exceed $26 million.

On Tuesday, the board approved a $300,000 contract with Atlanta-based Total System Commissioning for the modernization project. Wilson said the company will make sure all construction is completed to comply with building codes.

The facilities update during board caucus Tuesday also included a look at plans for a new Pepperell Middle, which is expected to cost more than $22 million. Wilson said the plan is to recommend using the current site for a new school at the board’s October meeting, after considerable support for the idea has been shown since a Pepperell community meeting two weeks ago.

Prior to building on the site preliminary work will be done to ensure doing so is possible. The work is projected to cost $45,200, and will include a “sub-surface investigation” of 40 borings both inside and outside the school. To complete the borings inside the school, work will have to be done on weekends, resulting in additional expenses, Wilson said.

The current school building would be planned for demolition in early June, after the school year ends. And with construction expected to continue into the next school year, system officials are now planning to use McHenry Primary for middle school students.

The primary students will still move to Pepperell Primary or a school closer to their residence next school year, Wilson said. But the process of closing McHenry would not go through for now, rather the state DOE would be notified of the school system’s plan to keep it open to house middle schoolers until the new Pepperell Middle is built.

In other items at Tuesday’s board meeting, the board approved a $189,447 purchase for bus camera upgrades.

Also, the school nutrition programs at each Floyd County school were recognized as Shake It Up gold level schools, earning the school system the gold recognition as well. The Shake It Up Initiative through the Georgia DOE encourages nutrition staff in schools to serve more food items grown in the state in their school meals, as well as developing tasty, creative meal ideas, said Nutrition Director Donna Carver.