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Board votes to buy school sites
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Forsyth County News


Following a year in which it didn’t open any new schools, the Forsyth County Board of Education is back to buying and building.

During Thursday’s meeting, the school board approved two land agreements and a resolution to build Kelly Mill Elementary School.

And that’s just the beginning, said Ann Crow, board chairwoman.

“We will be talking about future building plans with trying to balance our tax dollars and at the same time meet the needs of our growing population,” she said.

The board went with Gainesville-based Carroll Daniel Construction Co. to handle construction of Kelly Mill, which is set to open for the 2012-13 school year.

This is the second time companies have bid on the project. In October 2009, the board decided to hold off on construction, citing economic reasons.

The move proved to be advantageous, said Robert Sewell, facilities director.

“It was $23,938 cheaper than the same building bid last year, but we’ve added some changes,” he said. “So we’ve had several improvements on that particular property over what it was before, which makes it even better priced.”

Thirteen general contractors submitted proposals. The list was whittled to five, with Carroll Daniel’s bid of about $12.65 million selected.

The company has used the same school design for the county to build Brookwood and Whitlow elementary schools. Both were completed on time and within budget.

Sewell said he was also excited about reaching agreements on land for two new schools in south Forsyth.

The sites, which are not far from each other, both came at what Sewell said was “an extremely good price,” $100,000 an acre.

The board approved the $2.9 million purchase of a 29-acre property at 625 James Road.

The site will be used for future middle school No. 10, planned to relieve overcrowding at Piney Grove, Riverwatch, South Forsyth and Vickery Creek middle schools in 2014.

“We designated an area that has a need ... and the location for middle school No. 10 was perfect,” Sewell said. “If you drew a circle or radius around the school’s need, it’s right in that general area.”

The board also agreed to buy land for future elementary school No. 14. The purchase is pending the Forsyth County commission rezoning the property from office and industrial to residential.

“The land is under contract subject to the zoning change,” Sewell said. “If the zoning does not get approved, then we do not buy the property.”

The purchase price for the 26.88-acre tract at 175 Martin Drive is about $2.69 million.

The timing on the land deals couldn’t have been better, Sewell said.

“Property in that area probably two years ago was selling as high as $300,000 an acre and it’s an indication of the recession right now,” Sewell said. “In our opinion, it was the best time to buy.”

Crow said she’s also pleased the system was able to get all the property needed to use the current design for the schools, instead of having to spend more money to modify designs to fit smaller lots.

“It’s good to be able to see us use and keep our building plan to make better use of our tax dollars,” she said. “That has helped us save a lot of money.”