The Barrow County Board of Education on Tuesday, July 13, approved an architect for the future middle school at the school district’s Austin Road property in Winder.

The board selected Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates for the project. The firm has done architectural work for previous district projects — including the addition to Westside Middle School, renovation projects at Westside and Yargo Elementary, and the two-story additions to Yargo, Bramlett Elementary and Kennedy Elementary.

The district will pay the architect 5% of the cost of construction of the new school, and the district will be reimbursed for those costs by the Georgia Department of Education, according to Joe Perno, assistant superintendent for system operations.

The future middle school will be part of an expansion at the Austin Road campus that will also include a new elementary school and the second planned phase of Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy (BASA). The board last month approved guaranteed maximum prices for grading work at the site and now has architects in place for each school.

Under the district’s tentative timeline, the middle school would be built in time for the start of the 2025-26 academic year. The district is prioritizing the new elementary school due to what officials have described as “significant overcrowding” at Kennedy and Yargo and are targeting that school for a fall 2023 opening. The second phase of BASA would be completed and opened in the fall of 2024 under the proposed timeline.


At the start of Tuesday night’s meeting, the board elected District 8 at-large member Jordan Raper as its new vice-chair to lead any meetings in which chairman Bill Ritter is absent.

Raper replaces former school board member Debi Krause in the post after Krause resigned her District 1 seat last month as she prepares for a run for a Statham City Council seat. The board last month appointed Kenny Lumpkin to replace Krause, and Lumpkin participated in his first meeting Tuesday.

Raper was appointed to the school board in 2019 to fill the vacant at-large seat and won election to a full four-year term last November.


In other business Tuesday, the board:

•heard from Jennifer Houston, assistant superintendent for business services, that the district collected $1.41 million in ELOST proceeds in June, up slightly from $1.39 million in May.

•recognized the winners of the district’s first-ever student technology competition and those who advanced and placed at the state level competition. David Beeland, the district’s director of federal programs and Title I coordinator, said the district received a total of 183 projects — 112 individual projects and 71 team projects — involving 325 students for its first competition. Thirty-nine projects and 47 students advanced to the state competition, and several placed.

•recognized the district’s nutrition team for receiving a “Heroes” award from the Georgia League of Hunger for its efforts in the 2021 No Kid Hungry campaign. The team was recognized for continuing to ensure all school children were fed last year when schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

•recognized the district’s planning and personnel department for receiving awards from the Georgia Association of School Personnel Administrators. The department received the “Gold Award” in the area of “Strategic Partnerships” and an award distinction in the area of “Recruitment.”

•approved the recommended list of outside bus-repair vendors for fiscal year 2022. The district is estimating between $250,000-$270,000 for bus repairs in the fiscal year.

•approved the use of vendors for bus parts and supplies with an estimated cost of $770,000 for FY22.

•approved retaining Pye Barker Fire and Safety as the district’s fire extinguisher and suppression system vendor for FY22 at an estimated cost of $25,000.

•awarded the district’s fuel, petroleum and oil and lubrication bid for FY22 to Boswell Oil Company. The estimated cost will be $939,411.

•approved a contract with low-bid respondent Southern Tire Mart LLC, for tire services at an estimated cost of $140,000. District officials anticipate $10,000 in annual savings by using the company.

•approved a contract with low-bid respondent Connor Automotive for fleet maintenance at an estimated cost of $60,000.

•approved retaining Alpha Communications, Inc. for bus radio, camera and tablet servicing at an estimated cost of $25,000.

•approved several new fine arts and science electives at district high schools for the 2021-22 academic year, including: Sculpture I and II (starting with BASA), Drawing & Painting I and II (BASA), Photography I (BASA), Advanced Repertoire Dance (BASA), Performance Ensemble (for dance students at BASA) and Forest Science (Apalachee).


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