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Construction of new Lowrance school, other bond projects to start in 2017

Construction of new Lowrance school, other bond projects to start in 2017
December 15
07:30 2016

BY TODD LUCK 

THE CHRONICLE

County bonds projects will begin next year with the construction of a new Lowrance Middle School and replacements for two other schools.

In November, voters ratified a $350 million school bond, a $65 million Forsyth Technical Community College bond and $15 million county parks bond. The county will issue its first allocation of $107.5 million for bonds to be used next year, with more allocations to come over the next eight years.

“It really is a decade commitment to improve schools,” said County Manager Dudley Watts in a county briefing last week.

Many education projects begin next year. One will be a new school for Lowrance, which made headlines in 2015 when concerns over pollution at its former site caused both it and Hanes Middle to relocate. The school is currently located at Atkins Academic and Technology High School, but was in need of a new building before the toxicity scare.

The new Lowrance will be built on the campus of Paisley IB Magnet School, which will also have a replacement school there that’ll break ground next year and increase the school’s capacity form 627 students to 1,027.

Konnoak Elementary, which was cut from the last bond, will have a long overdue replacement that will increase its capacity.

Ground is expected to be broken on these projects by April and they should be completed by 2019.

The school system will also begin equipping all schools with new technology, which is expected to take six years. They will include interactive boards and computers for all classrooms and a 3-D printer for every media center. Assistant Superintendent Darrell Walker said that this will put all classrooms on the same footing.

“It’ll allow us to bring some equity to  every classroom in the district,” he said.

The school system will also start various maintenance and capital projects that will span eight years and begin traffic and safety improvements at various schools that should be complete by 2018.

Projects will also begin for county parks in 2017, like renovations at Union Cross, Walkertown and 421 River playgrounds. There will also be architectural and engineering design work done for the many bond projects at Tanglewood Park.

Playground renovations at all county parks are expected to be completed by 2019. Tanglewood’s projects are expected to begin in 2018, with most scheduled for completion by 2022.  Construction of a multi-use agricultural event center is expected to begin in 2021, with its final phase scheduled for completion by the end of 2024.

Forsyth Tech’s projects are not scheduled to break ground until 2018. This includes Oak Grove Center renovations, which are scheduled for completion in 2019, as well as the creation of hangar and classroom space for an aviation program at Smith Reynolds Airport, which is expected to be completed in 2020. Construction of the new Learning Commons on campus is expected to run from 2020-2022 and the expansion of the Transportation Center on Patterson Avenue will be from 2022-2023.

Future start dates for school system projects are:

*Six additional pre-kindergarten classrooms and a new middle school on Robinhood Road in 2018.

*Philo-Hill Magnet Academy renovations and Easton Elementary School addition in 2019.

*Security cameras at various schools, Wiley Magnet Middle School expansion and a replacement school for Brunson Elementary in 2020.

*Renovation of North Forsyth High School and purchase of land for a future school in the eastern part of the county in 2021.

*Additions to Griffith and Ward elementary schools, renovations at East Forsyth and Kennedy high schools and construction of a new middle school at State Farm in 2022.

*The design for the replacement Ashley Academy will be done in 2023.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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