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Social Circle super talks new school
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Social Circle business owners had the chance to meet and greet Social Circle City Schools superintendent Todd McGhee at a monthly Merchant Coffee event held at the Social Circle welcome center on Tuesday.

Mike Owens and Robin Smith along with the Better Hometown Board of Directors hosted the informal meet and greet, which gave businesses the opportunity to learn more about what has been going on with Social Circle City Schools by listening to an update from McGhee.

In his update, McGhee, who was chosen to replace Social Circle City Schools superintendent Bettye Ray by the Social Circle Board of Education in May, said the board is currently discussing their options for building a new elementary/primary school that would have grades K-5.

According to the Georgia Department of Education website, HB 192, which passed during the 2011 legislative session, created the State Education Finance Study Commission. The 20-member commission was assigned to review the Quality Basic Education Formula, which is a 25 year old formula that calculated the funding needed for Georgia's schools.

Interim recommendations from the commission were due on Sept. 30, 2011 and final recommendations were due on Sept. 30. Final proposed legislation from the commission is due on Dec. 31 and will be presented to the Georgia General Assembly in January.

In September, the commission gave their recommendations, which included providing more money for teacher training, school psychologists, technology and a few other changes. McGhee said some of the formula changes have impacted the systems plan for moving forward with building a new school in Social Circle.

"The funding formula being changed was certainly something that we have had to deal with," McGhee said. "We were planning on breaking ground in December on our new school and we've had to refocus and see what our other options are now."

"We were cut the $4.9 million dollars that we were suppose to get to help us with our new primary and elementary school and so we're having to make some tough decisions," he said.

McGhee said the board has reached out to the community with surveys to try and see how they will go forward with trying to build the new school. He listed three options that the BOE is considering.

He said they have considered options such as saving money and waiting to build the new school as well as changing the format of the proposed elementary school and building a new school that would hold K-6 instead of K-5 in order to receive funding for the project.

McGhee said based off of the input the board has received from the community, saving money and waiting to build the new school looks like what the community wants.

He said the board plans to make a decision about the new school at their meeting on Oct. 15

In addition to discussion of the new school, McGhee said the board will also talk about the proposed athletic facility. McGhee said the system has $540,000 set aside to build an athletic facility.

"Our athletic complex has been talked about for a lot of years and so far I think all we have to show for it is a parking lot that we build down there," McGhee said.

He said the board is asking the community if they should go forward with building the facility or wait until they build the new school before they start building an athletic complex.

McGhee said he is thrilled to be back in Social Circle as the superintendent and he hopes to meet all of the students needs in the community.

"I want to continue the tradition of excellence that Dr. Ray has established," McGhee said. "Social Circle people like to come here because of the schools, the low taxes and it's just a great community."