Albany -- Nearly $50 million in construction is going on right now. The new schools and a major addition at Monroe High will ease overcrowding and allow for new programs in technology and fine arts.
Construction continues until dark most days at the new Radium Middle School. The school is more than 170,000 square feet and will be the only three-story middle school in Dougherty County. Teachers and students at the current school, which is right next door, say they're ready for a more elbow room.
Members of Eighth Grade Chorus pack into a small room at Radium Springs Middle. Chorus Teacher Susan Akridge can barely move between her piano and desk, and students stand elbow to elbow in the crowded room. "It wasn't meant to be a chorus classroom. The band room is right next door, so we hear every note the band plays," said Akridge.
Dougherty County has outgrown many of its schools so the system is building three new schools including a new Radium Springs Middle School. "We're getting the roof on now," said DCSS Facilities Director Bob Fowler. "We've got windows in place. We're putting the finishes on the inside of some of the building. It's going to be tight, right up until the end. But that's we anticipated."
Fowler says the new schools are being built faster than ever. Students and teachers should move into the new Jackson Heights Elementary by the end of this school year. "One phase of it has been ready for about three months now, but we want to move the entire school at once."
The old building will be demolish this summer. Another new elementary school is going up on Society Avenue, Lincoln Magnet Elementary. The school system is renovating and adding on to the old Macintosh School. "That is an historic building, the Old Macintosh building. I think the architect did an excellent job matching the new finish to the old finish. I think the two buildings compliment each other," said Fowler.
The school system also spent $14.5 million on a major addition at Monroe High School. There's a new media center, cafeteria and technology magnet program. "Mathematics, pre-engineering and the technology programs have all been expanded and brought up to date," Fowler said.
Akridge says the new buildings will do more than ease overcrowding, they will also boost learning and pride. "To be able to walk into a fresh room that's big enough for them to spread out, for them to be able to hear me, and for men to have room to move behind this piano. How can it not improve the quality?"
Right now, all the building projects are on schedule, so students should be able to start the next school year in August at these new schools.
Construction of the new Northwest Albany Elementary School on Gillionville Road is expected to begin within the next three weeks. Students will move into it in Fall of 2007.