Staff Writer-Diana New
After reviewing several architectural bids during their June 18 special called meeting, the Macon County School Board selected The Brantley Construction Company to lead the South Macon Elementary School expansion project which is expected to break ground in August.
The board was approved a $2.92 million dollar loan at the county commission meeting last Tuesday and promptly began weighing bids that had come in from several contractors including H & M Constructors and Harper Corporation. Weaverville’s Brantley Construction Company is known for providing quality work since 1976. The company has almost 40 years of history in building throughout the Southeast and their projects have included commercial facilities, churches, distribution centers, LEED construction, Design-Build, manufacturing facilities, sports and school construction, state and federal construction and hospitality construction. Before making the decision to accept Brantley’s bid, the board needed to discuss the elimination of three alternates that had put them $224,000 over their budget. The board reviewed and discussed eliminating costs by removing cafeteria expansion, hot water heaters, and sidewalk improvements from the overall bid. According to board member Fred Goldsmith cutting these costs would help with the budget and allow the commencement of the much-needed expansion project.
The project became a priority in early 2017 when the board recognized there was a need for expansion due to an increase in student enrollment, which resulted in overpopulation of the classrooms and schools. To accommodate the increase in student enrollment, schools had moved classes to office spaces and moved computer labs to the libraries. This project will add six classrooms at SMES that will accommodate the county’s increased student enrollment.
While the board agreed that cutting these costs would help their budget and accommodate the district’s growing student population, safety was a top priority when considering the elimination of cafeteria expansion. The cafeteria at SMES is surrounded by windows, and while floor space is an issue, the cafeteria is also in need of improved security. Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin addressed the board’s concerns on cafeteria safety, “The primary goal for the cafeteria is to provide more security and this part is included in the original bid, the secondary goal is to provide additional floor space in the cafeteria for our students.” Board member Jim Breedlove agreed with Dr. Baldwin noting that expansion of the cafeteria was needed, but that it was something that could be done at a later date. Breedlove added that if the cafeteria is not included in the eliminated alternatives the board would need to start from scratch in their search for project contractors.
The board agreed that the cafeteria was among the three alternatives that could be removed from the project and still allow the timely commencement of the much-needed expansion project. Fred Goldsmith concluded, “Time is of the essence on this job and we need to consider the company’s track record for completing projects.” Considering Goldsmith’s final statement, the board motioned to eliminate three alternates—cafeteria expansion, hot water heaters, and sidewalk improvements—and accept The Brantley Construction Company’s bid under the provision they review the company’s history for completing bids as indicated.