Morgan BOE zeroes in on best new school site
Morgan County Board of Education is closer to picking a site for the proposed new Priceville High School after getting input from the architect and consulting engineers at a work session on July 31.
In an executive session, the board discussed an offer from the owner of one of the four tracts of land under consideration and authorized Superintendent Bill Hopkins to make a counter offer. The price of the land was not disclosed.
Architect John Godwin, geo-technical engineer Frank Whitman and civil engineer Blake McAnally each spoke on the advantages and disadvantages of the four sites under consideration.
A 56-acre site at North Bethel and Upper River Roads received the highest grade. Positive attributes included access to two paved roads, visibility from I-65 and the least amount of undesirable soil. A negative is lack of sewer access. It was estimated that it would cost $100,00 to $125,000 to provide that service.
A 50-acre tract at North Bethel and Cave Springs Roads was virtually ruled out because part of it lies in a drainage basin and would require extensive earthwork.
A 50-acre site on school-owned property behind Priceville Elementary School received low marks because it adjoins two developed subdivisions, does not have access to a paved public road and would create a traffic congestion problem.
A 40-acre tract donated by the Town of Priceville, which is located adjacent to a waste treatment lagoon and Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, received negative marks because of its isolation and lack of paved road. It was reported that transportation infrastructure could cost as much as $1 million.
“Are you telling us the Blue site (North Bethel and Upper River Roads) is number #1 in your opinion,” said board member Billy Rhodes.
“If I had to tell you now, I’d day yes,” answered Godwin.
“But if the price for that site is exorbitant,” board chairman Carolyn Wallace added, “we’ll scratch it and move to another one.”
Godwin said his staff is working on a building footprint that calls for 160,000 square feet of floor space, which is capable of accommodating 600 students. The school currently has an enrollment of 440, according to Principal Mark Mason.
“One concern of mine is the building needs to be designed to accommodate future expansion,” Wallace pointed out. “The cafeteria should also be large enough take care of anticipated growth.”