COVINGTON, Ga. — School system officials anticipate the new Eastside High School facility will be completed in March and be ready for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
Newton County schools officials announced Friday, Sept. 17, that the Eastside facility is set to be completed by March 2022 on a 107-acre site at U.S. Hwy. 278 and Georgia Hwy. 142.
Supply and labor shortages delayed completion of the almost $60 million school beyond its originally anticipated January completion date, officials said.
However, the later-then-anticipated opening also delays the beginning of renovation of the current Eastside building for the Newton County Theme School.
After the move, Newton County Theme School at Ficquett will relocate to the current Eastside facility on Eagle Drive by the start of the 2023-2024 school year, said spokesperson Sherrie Partee.
Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County Schools, said in a news release the school system was “looking forward” to the new school’s opening.
“Although we had planned to open the (new Eastside High) school in January, the pandemic and resulting shortages in both labor and supplies made that impossible.
“The school should be complete this spring to allow ample time to set up classrooms and offices with furniture and supplies in preparation for the first day of the 2022-2023 school year,” Fuhrey said.
“Unfortunately, this delay will change the timeframe for renovations of the current Eastside High School (building) and the subsequent relocation of the Newton County Theme School to that building.”
Michael Barr, Newton County School System’s chief operations officer, said, “Although the school was originally set to open in January 2022, delays due to supply chain issues and labor shortages have resulted in a delayed completion date.”
He added that the school system and general contractor RA-LIN and Associates Inc. “have worked to closely monitor conditions and make necessary adjustments as needed to ensure the project is completed a soon as possible,” the news release stated.
Eastside High opened in 1994 to relieve Newton High School amid rapid growth in the county in the 1990s. It graduated its first senior class in 1998.
A 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (ESPLOST) that Newton County voters approved in 2018 is funding the project.
Newton County Board of Education approved the $59,479,353 construction contract with RA-LIN and Associates Inc. in December 2019. The school system hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2020.
Its new facility will have a capacity for 1,650 students.
The school system has not yet received bids for the renovation of the Eastside building for relocation of the Theme School, Partee said.
Newton County has operated theme schools since opening one each at Clements Middle and Fairview Elementary schools in 2009.
It subsequently closed the Clements location and moved the other to the former Ficquett Elementary School building adjacent to the school system headquarters in Covington in 2011.
Fuhrey said, “This project would not be possible without the support of Newton County residents, who overwhelmingly supported our school system’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax For Education (ESPLOST), which removes the financial burden from local property owners and distributes the cost to anyone who purchases goods in our community, including visitors.
“The funds collected through our one-penny ESPLOST directly contributed to both of these very important construction projects.
“I know the students who will attend both Eastside High School and the new Theme School in the years to come will be greatly appreciative of the community’s support,” she said.