Forsyth County Schools took a major step this week towards completing a school project that has been in development for more than a decade.
At the March meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Education, members unanimously approved an $85 million bid from Carroll Daniel Construction to build East Forsyth High School, which is to be located off Jot Em Down Road and Claude Martin Drive and open in the fall 2021.
"The people of north Forsyth have waited patiently for a long time, so it's been a long time coming," District 4 Representative Darla Light said after the vote. "We finally have the numbers and everyone's very excited, I think."
The county’s most recent traditional high school, Denmark, cost $72 million, making this project one of the most expensive the system has embarked on in recent memory.
The hefty price tag of the new school is due in part to factors at the site and national trends which have driven the cost of construction materials up, according to Tom Wening, director of construction.
Wening said at the meeting that there is no sanitary sewer service at the building site and geotechnical borings uncovered significant amounts of rock.
“Septic made it a much larger expense than historically our average and experience, simply because there is no sanitary sewer service in that area unfortunately,” he said. “During the geotechnical borings, after the bond approval, we had significant rock found. So the excavation of that rock adds cost."
East Forsyth will also require a significant amount of structural steel, the cost of which has been impacted by 25-percent tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration in January of 2018 on all countries except Australia and Argentina.
Of the estimated cost of $85,418,395 to build the school, records state that the county will be reimbursed more than $15 million by the Georgia Department of Education’s Capital Outlay Program.
After the meeting, Jennifer Caracciolo, director of communications for Forsyth County Schools, said that while the site for East Forsyth has its own unique challenges the school’s design will be similar to the county’s other traditional high schools.
Previously, Caracciolo said that the land for East Forsyth was purchased by the system in the early 2000s, but the project, along with the future Poole’s Mill Elementary School, was tabled due to the severity of the Great Recession that started in 2007.
Carroll Daniel Construction has built several of the county school system’s buildings, including Alliance Academy for Innovation and Kelly Mill, Brookwood and Whitlow elementary schools. The contractor was also approved to build Poole’s Mill.
Meanwhile, board members approved a $739,000 bid from MUSCO Sports Lighting to outfit several outdoor areas at the school, while a $840,071 bid from Shaw Sports Turf was approved to build the school’s two athletic turf fields.
"We've used them frequently throughout all of our other sports fields throughout the district with no problems," Wening said of the two companies. "So they demonstrated a good partnership with us, not only in performance but in advantageous pricing to us.”