Lake Oconee Academy Expansion

New $30 million expansion planned at LOA

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:46 pm

GREENSBORO – A proposed $30 million building project is planned for the future at Lake Oconee Academy, the charter school in southern Greene County.

Lake Oconee Academy Chief Executive Officer Dr. Otho Tucker made a power-point presentation during the work session of the Greene County Board of Education on Monday night. He talked about the scope of the building project, as well as about how such a project could be funded. In addition, he also talked about the many accolades and academic successes enjoyed there during the school’s five-years of existence.

“The numbers will show that we have a demand for we’re doing,” LOA Board of Governors Chairman Mike Kelly told school board members prior to Tucker’s formal presentation.

The charter school, which is located off Carey Station Road near Lake Oconee, is in an area where much growth is planned. Construction on a new hospital is planned near the intersection of Georgia Highway 44 and Carey Station Road, as are two new subdivisions. And there is talk that a third subdivision may be in the planning stages, along with a planned new interchange along Interstate 20 that will benefit motorists who travel along Carey Station Road.

“It’s been five wonderful years,” Tucker said, noting that the school is about to reach its enrollment capacity, which is why he and other school officials believe now is the time to begin working towards expanding the size of the school.

Tucker called Georgia a unique state in that it’s the fastest growing states in the Southeast and one of the fastest growing states in America.

He alluded to the recent announcements about Baxter International and Caterpillar building plants in neighboring counties and what that might mean to Greene County. Since Greene County is so close, employees of those large, well-paying plants could choose to live in the southern portion of Greene County, which could mean even more growth for the local charter school.

School officials have been working on this proposed building project idea for the past five months. They have studied it from a regional, state and local demographic perspective, as well as from a population and jobs indicator analysis.

From 2000-2009, Greene County has experienced an 11 percent growth, Tucker said. He also said Greene County has the small town characteristics that people like. In his presentation, he cited the following local characteristics: low crime rate, good schools and community educational attainment, cultural activities a leisure activities, potential for job-growth and income growth and affordable housing.

By the year 2018, Georgia is predicted to be sixth among the top 10 states for project school enrollment of students, he said.

That’s another reason for the need to expand.

“If we progress the way we’re going, we’ve got to be ready for that growth,” Tucker said.

For the school year, 2014-15, LOA officials are projecting more students than the school’s capacity calls for, he added. The classes will exceed the number of available classrooms.

The proposed building plan calls for 28 new middle/high school classrooms. The comprehensive plan also calls for an addition to be made on the existing gymnasium so as to provide for health classes, training and storage. The plan also calls for cafeteria facilities with a full prep-kitchen, a middle/high school gym, an auditorium, a middle/high school library, as well as support spaces for storage, maintenance, data and utilities.

There also would be site changes, including additional land for parking, a new gym and athletic practice fields, as well as additional parking areas for faculty members and high school students eligible to drive to school.

The total cost of such a project was listed at $29,963,100.

Tucker explained that it could be funded by a new bond incremental debt payment, which would be approximately $1.65 million dollars annually over a 30-year period.

“With one mill producing approximately $1.2 million, it would require 1.38 mills to cover the incremental debt service,” Tucker said.

The first out-of-pocket payment is forecasted to begin on Feb.1, 2015. The monies to be charged for this payment would be collected in the fall of 2014, if the proposed project is approved.

Tucker said there is the possibility that the impact of the first payment could be offset, if another Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) were to be approved between now and then.

Tucker and other LOA school officials will be holding three different community presentations about the school’s proposed building project, beginning Monday, July 16 at Lake Oconee Academy at 5:30 p.m.

Another such community meeting will be held at Festival Hall in Greensboro on Monday, July 23 at 5:30 p.m. and again on Thursday, July 26 at Union Point Elementary School in Union Point at 5:30 p.m.

 Posted in Lake oconee news on Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:46 pm.

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