School board selects architect for CHS construction project

With two major facilities projects being planned, the Grady County Board of Education met last Thursday to select an architect to assist the school system with design and construction.
Board members met at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and, on the recommendation of Superintendent Lee M. Bailey, unanimously approved the hiring of Greg Smith of Buckley & Associates to design the Cairo High School College & Career Academy project. In December 2013, Cairo High School was one of only three high schools in the state to receive a $3.15 million grant from the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to create a college and career academy here.
The board held the special called meeting to expedite the planning phase in advance of a May 15, 2014, deadline to apply for a Construction Related Equipment Grant that is available to new college and career academies.
According to Superintendent Bailey, the CRE grant is a two year process and by moving forward with the selection of an architect, rather than waiting for the March school board meeting, the school system can, hopefully, complete the college & career project in time for the opening of school in August 2015.
Bailey established a committee to interview three architectural firms including Buckley & Associates. The other firms interviewed were Raymond C. Finger Architects and Jinright, Ryan & Lynn, Architects.
Members of the interview committee, in addition to the superintendent, were Operations Director Jerry Cox, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard, Technology Director Chris Guest, Finance Officer Dan Broome, Cairo High School Principal David McCurry, CTAE Director and College & Career Academy CEO Todd Gainous, Southside Principal Janet Walden and CHS governing board member LaDon Toole.
Superintendent Bailey said that all three architects had visited both Cairo High School and Southside Elementary School for inspections prior to their interviews.
The selection committee unanimously agreed that Buckley & Associates would best accomplish the system’s needs for the high school career academy project, according to Bailey.
The Grady County school system has employed Buckley & Associates for many projects over the years.
Before making a recommendation for an architect for a major renovation project and the demolition of a vacant wing that is infested with termites at Southside Elementary School, the superintendent has ordered a site plan of the Southside campus.
Bailey has met with Susanne Finger of Raymond C. Finger Architects to conduct the site plan. According to the superintendent, Mrs. Finger will look at existing facilities, future anticipated needs, utilization of existing facilities, remodeling vs. new construction, bus and parent traffic flow, as well as future building location(s).
“Once this is completed, we can look at several scenarios versus estimated costs. This will play into our SPLOST plans and if a bond referendum is needed,” Superintendent Bailey said.
According to school officials, issues with termites have also been discovered in the original main building at Southside. The board of education will be asked to decide whether to save the historic structure or rebuild.
The superintendent says the Southside project is not as time sensitive as the CHS project. Bailey hopes to be awarded the CRE grant to be able to buy such equipment as welders, hospital beds, tools, computers, large car jacks and other equipment that may be needed in the new academy.
“It looks like you’ve done your homework,” board member Jeff Worsham told Superintendent Bailey last week.
Chairman Allen Jenkins said he believed it was important to have the called meeting so that all members of the board could hear the recommendation and ask questions if necessary.

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