Flood waters push new construction wave through school system - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Flood waters push new construction wave through school system

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July 14, 2004

Albany- It won't be long until the sounds of scrapers and buffers are replaced by the sounds of scuffling school shoes.

Workers are in some of the final stages of renovation at Sherwood Elementary. It will be the beginning of a new era for the teachers and students who spend their days here. But for Dougherty County, new schools became every day business almost ten years ago.

"I remember going in them after the flood and the ceilings were all warped and falling in because the amount of moisture that was in there," said Bob Fowler, the new construction manager for the school system.

Moisture from three to six feet of water in Flintside, Coachman Park, and MLK elementary schools and MLK middle school.

"The chalkboards were all falling off the walls," Fowler said. "Lights had fallen down because the ceilings were falling out. So the schools were pretty much just gutted by the flood."

Eventually some of that land was turned into green space, like parks and walking tracks.

Three new elementary schools were built on safer sites in nearby locations.

"I really think it's the standard and quality of construction we decided to build."

The system received more than $30 million to build schools like Lamar Reese Elementary, that's now a fine arts magnet school. Inside, the schools have better technology, bigger media centers packed with more books, and rooms large enough to hold classes full of keyboard players.

"I think we set the standard for a lot of construction to come."

It wasn't long after flood recovery school construction started that voters passed a special sales tax that kept the building trend going. That money is paying for the renovation at Sherwood, and will soon help build three more new elementary schools, a new middle school and renovate and add on to all four high schools.

"If you've got three or four schools, or what we're working into now, probably about half our schools have been renovated and they have dry marker boards, they have eight computers per classroom, they have good lighting, they have nice carpet, they have good paint. Of course you want to bring your other schools up to that standard."

A standard school leaders want to build all the way through the system for the kids that will come.

"I guess it does make them want to come to school even more."

But before they get here, workers will be painting on the finishing touches until the school bell rings.

posted at 3:35 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com