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BOE close to completing facilities plan
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The Newton County Board of Education is one step closer to completing its new five-year facilities plan, and with the changes, it could infuse roughly $24 million into its building program from state participation.

A new plan was needed due to the decrease in the rate of student enrollment, decrease in ad valorem tax collections and in state tax collections and funding, according to Deputy Superintendent Dr. Dennis Carpenter.

"Given these issues, we solicited the assistance of the facilities section of the State Department of Education in the development of a new five-year facilities plan," said Carpenter. "We have a time line we are working with, and now that our school board has approved the proposed organization, our next step is to submit by March 15 the new facilities plan to the State Department of Education for review. If all goes well, our local school board would adopt the new five-year facilities plan in May, with the State Department of Education scheduled to adopt it in June."

The facilities plan does include the phase out of several Newton County Schools, but Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley pointed out that this would be something that would happen over the course of a few years as new schools were built to replace the old.

As part of the plan, Ficquett Elementary, Palmer-Stone Elementary and Newton High school would be phased out from the state's school inventory. At a previous meeting of the BOE, board member Cathy Dobbs explained that the cost of replacing the schools would be more cost-effective then bringing them up to the current school building specifications.

A new high school will be built to replace NHS and the facilities plan also includes a second new high school to replace the current Eastside High School which will become a theme school that will house kindergarten through eighth grade. Fairview Elementary and Clements Middle — which now house the county's theme schools — will revert back to an elementary and middle school. Additionally, a new elementary school will also be built. All facilities are built using Special Location Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) monies.