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NCSS breaks ground on 2 new projects
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The Newton County Board of Education broke ground on two projects Tuesday afternoon — the Newton College and Career Academy and elementary school No. 15, located at 1300 Airport Road.

The board unanimously voted last week to approve a low bid for site work and grading at the career academy, which is located adjacent to Newton High School. The low bid went to Charles Sullivan Construction Inc. out of Homer for $364,000. Two local bidders were in the running but their base bids came in $67,000 and $129,750 higher. The project was expected to cost between $300,000 and $450,000.

The NCCA was initially set to open its doors to students in fall 2011 but has been pushed back to January of 2012. According to a memo from Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley, the stall on construction was due, in part, to being unable to secure a site. Eventually it was decided that the NCCA would be built on the campus of Newton High School. The board elected to move forward and allow for site work bids separate from construction in an effort to expedite the construction, which is scheduled to begin in August.

The NCCA got a huge boost in December 2009 when Lt. Governor Casey Cagle awarded the NCSS more than $3 million in state grant funds as part of the state’s Career Academy Project. The money will be used in conjunction with DeKalb Technical College.

The NCCA addition is planned to be 159,000-square-feet and located on the other side of the auditorium. It will feature three levels and is separate from NHS. It will feature a 250-seat auditorium, cosmetology room, early childhood center and outside play area, public safety area for law enforcement, fire and EMS classes, among others.

The NCSS closed on property for elementary school No. 15 back in November. The tract of land is 80.97 acres and is located at the northwest corner of Airport Road and Ga. Highway 142.

The property will also accommodate additional facilities in the future, such as a middle school and a stadium — though these plans are not in the immediate future, they have been laid out in the NCSS building plan.

The property was purchased for $1,133,580, and according to Dr. Dennis Carpenter, Deputy Superintendent for Operations. The money used to purchase the property came from bonds sold in August of 2008.

"The purchase of the property at the northwest corner of the intersection of Airport Road and Ga. Highway 142 is aligned with the SPLOST III Referendum for Schools passed in our county back in September of 2007," said Carpenter. "The monies used to purchase this property came from the selling of bonds in August of 2008. These bonds are to be paid back with SPLOST III receipts which we will begin receiving in March of 2010.

"This purchase will allow us to move forward with those capital projects outlined in this referendum and in the district’s five year facilities plan. It is also important to note that, per state law, these dollars must be spent on specific capital projects and not daily operations," he said.

The school will have a similar design to recently opened elementary schools South Salem and Live Oak. According to Carpenter, the plan is to have the school open for students at the start of the 2011-2012 school year.