By Tia Lynn Ivey
As the new schools project enters its last phase with the construction for the new Morgan County Middle School on a consolidated campus beside the new Morgan County High School, new costs have risen. The Morgan County Board of Education approved another $1.3 million in expenditures related to the new schools project at the last regular meeting on Monday, April 8. This brings the total cost to nearly $47.5 million.
“This amendment addresses changes to high school and middle school as a result of addressing needs identified through the construction process. Many of the items are enhancements to the buildings,” said Dr. James Woodard, superintendent of schools.
The additional costs will pay for upgrades to flooring, carpeting, handrails, technology, electrical work, and road work.
To pay for the additional costs, the One Morgan Campaign, headed by Kathryn Cardwell, has been fundraising for new school construction project and has raised over $1 million.
“The efforts of the One Morgan campaign has provided enhancements and additions beyond the basic project,” said Woodard. We are so grateful to our community for investing in our school system,” said Woodard.
“Morgan County has a history of seeking innovation in education, and these new schools will help prepare our students to be successful in the classroom and in their future careers,” said Cardwell. “Project-based learning and classes which teach about different kinds of careers will create engaged students, and will help create a well-educated community. All of us are fortunate to be raising and educating our students in Morgan County.”
Cardwell praised the community for its speedy generosity, noting that the “I’m One” capital campaign was started in March 2018 and by the end of 2018, the group secured pledges of over $ 1 million. The campaign was organized by a core team of about ten people, who developed a plan for fundraising and the Beyond the Basics informational message.
“This group, most of whom serve on the Board of Directors for the College and Career Academy, are parents of school-aged kids and community members, who are passionate about helping to create the best educational environment and opportunities for our schools,” said Cardwell.
Another funding source for the new school project is the Education Special Project Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST), which is bringing in higher revenues this year than in previous years, experiencing a 13.5 percent increase in collections so far for Fiscal Year 2019.
For FY 2019, ESPLOST has generated so far, $3,036,707.00. ESPLOST is bringing in an average of $337,412.00 per month. The average monthly revenues in previous years were much lower. The 2018 monthly average was $307,599.00. The 2017 monthly average was $281,273.00. The 2016 monthly average was $286,659.00. The increase ESPLOST funds are helping to offset the costs of the new expenditures for the new schools project.
The capital campaign is still ongoing.
“While construction of the new Morgan County High School: A College and Career Academy is complete, the capital campaign is not,” said Cardwell. “If you drive down College Avenue, you can see the beginnings of the new Morgan County Middle School and new athletic practice fields for both schools. Donations to our campaign to assist in providing new opportunities for our students are still welcome. Checks (made out to MCHS: A GA CCA Inc) can be mailed to 1231 College Avenue, Madison, or donations can be made on online at OneMorgan.org.”
The new middle school is set to be completed in December of 2019, erected on the site of the old high school. The consolidated campus will feature the new middle school along side the already completed new high school, College and Career Academy, and Transportation facility.