Macon Middle School renovations still on the back burner

Macon Middle School students can look forward to new floors, brighter lighting systems and new color schemes. Classrooms will be moved around to accomodate projects still underway as the new school year begins Aug. 23. Photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

During an update to the Board of Education Monday night, Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin cautioned board members that the bridge overpass at Macon Middle School was a cause for concern as students return to school for the first time since March. 

“The overpass at Macon Middle School where buses drive over the tunnel where car rider students walk into the lower parking lot, the DOT has told us that we can no longer use that overpass for buses,” said Dr. Baldwin. “That has impacted traffic patterns at the middle school.”

Macon Middle School and Mountain View Intermediate see 40 buses through their campuses right now in addition to car riders. There is an increase in buses to these schools as shuttles from elementary schools are not permitted due to social distancing requirements on the school buses. To address the logistics surrounding transportation at the schools, the district is considering staggered times for bus riders and car riders moving forward. 

The overpass at the middle school is one of the many repairs identified on the overall renovation project at Macon Middle School, which is expected to cost several million dollars over the next few years. 

Last Fall, the district approved SGA NarmourWright Design as the architectural firm hired to develop renovation plans for the school. Last week, Macon County Commissioners approved an additional $16,000 in project changes to the proposed plans to accommodate for technology needs at the school. 

After commissioners agreed the renovations needed at Macon Middle School were more extensive than what could be accomplished within the annual capital outlay budget the project was separated and bids were solicited to address structural needs.

The scope of work includes the addition of a 6,400 square foot locker room facility – which would be added to the facility’s existing 100,477 square footage. The work needing to be addressed includes roof repairs, wall assembly, cabinet and window replacements, interior finishes such as paint and restroom partitions, HVAC replacement, and plumbing updates.

Budget concerns stemming from the loss of tax revenue due to businesses being shut down because of COVID has slowed the project, however Macon County Manager Derek Roland said that after the final architectural plans are submitted and approved by the board, and a proposed cost is presented, the board has a certain amount of time to decide to move forward with the project or table it due to financial concerns. 

As it stands, Roland said he expects the final plans to be presented to the board in September or October for approval and then a decision will be made as to how to continue. 

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