DCSS approves funding for new Oak Tree Facility - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

DCSS approves funding for new Oak Tree Facility

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Oak Tree GNET Director Kerrie Miller (Source: WALB) Oak Tree GNET Director Kerrie Miller (Source: WALB)

The Dougherty County School Board is making good on their promise to move a group of special needs students to a more modern facility. 

It's a major step in resolving a year-long dispute with Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support that found much of the Sylvandale Pre-K Center, which houses students in the Oak Tree Program, was outdated.  

About 50 students with special needs will soon get bused to Sherwood Acres Elementary School.

"Ours was one of the ones that was pretty much top of the list that needed a lot of work to be done," explained Oak Tree GNET Director Kerrie Miller. 

State Department Education officials toured the facility and discovered much of Sylvandale needed some serious upgrades.

"So this is where at one point in time we would've had four bathroom stalls," said Kerrie Miller as showed us how there are now three stalls after state officials found the bathroom was not ADA compliant. 

There's also no gym, no media center, no wiring for smartboards and simply no space.

"This one playground is here to accommodate our program and the Pre-K program," Miller explained. "Fortunately Dougherty County did a great job in writing a grant and a proposal." 

After getting the award, the school board approved the $3 million grant to build a new two-story wing at Sherwood Acres located on the side closest to the playground. 

It will have new classrooms and a computer lab. 

"We don't want to go in and overburden the Sherwood staff," said Miller. 

But she wanted to give teachers a chance to collaborate with other teachers in a general school setting.

"Opportunities to benefit from the amenities like the gymnasium and a PE teacher that can show our staff here are some of the things you can do with your students," said Miller. 

The project will cost around $5 million with a majority covered by the grant.

The other $2 million will come from local funds.

School leaders are in the design phase and hope to move the students by the start of next school year. 

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