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BoE aiming to renovate SEES over the summer
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Hopeful that state funding will be approved, the Effingham County Board of Education is moving forward with its plans to renovate South Effingham Elementary School.

The school board unanimously approved Statesboro-based Pope Construction Company as the construction manager for the estimated $2.1 million upgrade to SEES.

The project will be “very fast-paced,” said Effingham County Schools Superintendent Randy Shearouse. Pope Construction will have roughly two months to complete the work, between the May 23 last day of classes and the Aug. 6 start of the new school year.

Pope’s bid was one of four submitted. Shearouse pointed out that the school system has contracted with the company on previous building projects, including the South Effingham High School field house and wing additions at Blandford Elementary, Effingham County Middle and Effingham County and South Effingham high schools.

“It’s a familiar name the board knows,” Shearouse said. “They’ve gotten us in some buildings before when we’ve been on a tight timeframe, and we feel like they’ll do a good job for us.”

Shearouse stated the $2.1 million price tag is “fluid, but is based on architectural estimates for the project.” School officials are optimistic state funds will cover more than half the cost, with revenue from the special purpose local option sales tax for education (E-SPLOST) funding the remainder.

The Effingham County Board of Education has requested $1.26 million in state money for the SEES renovations. Under Georgia’s capital outlay formula, a school district accrues entitlement credit each year based on its enrollment growth and age of its school buildings.

In a capital outlay application, local districts must demonstrate the need for a particular project and have it included in their five-year facilities plan. The state funding to upgrade South Effingham Elementary will need to be approved in the 2014 General Assembly session as part of the governor’s bond package.

“We feel like it will be,” Shearouse said. “We have the money accumulated in entitlement.”

The exact project list for SEES won’t be finalized until the state funding is approved, but school officials have discussed improvements such as installing new floor coverings, ceiling tiles and kitchen equipment, renovating the bathrooms and bus canopies, painting the walls and replacing major components of the heating and air conditioning system. South Effingham Elementary opened in 1986.

Dabbs-Williams Contractors, Parrish Construction and Lavender & Associates also submitted bids to head up the project. Unlike the design-bid-build model the Effingham County Board of Education has used to award previous building contracts, the district hired Pope to be the construction manager.

The reasoning was twofold, Shearouse explained. Using the construction manager model will “hopefully reduce some cost of the project,” he said, while enabling Pope to hire local contractors for much of the work.

“We found that to be an attractive area, where the construction manager can actually look and evaluate local folks and use them when they can in a project,” Shearouse said.

He added that Pope Construction will host an informational session soon at which contractors will be able to see the plans for the renovation, ask questions and make bids. The date and time for the event will be listed on the school system’s Web site and shared with the local media.

“There are some things that someone locally might not qualify to do because of the scope of the project,” Shearouse said. “But hopefully there will be some that will, and they can bid on the things that are associated with the renovation.”