This Middle Georgia high school is undergoing a $12.5 million expansion

When students return to class at Jones County High School this fall, they might not recognize the halls they once found familiar.

The high school campus on Cumslo Road in Gray is undergoing a $12.5 million transformation.

Around $2 million will come from state monies while the rest will come from education special purpose local option sales tax funds.

“We have a comprehensive new construction and renovation project going on here at Jones County High School,” said Chuck Gibson, Jones County Schools superintendent.

The project includes a renovation of the front entrance and the addition of a meeting room. Other additions to campus include a new athletic weight room facility and a band, choral and JROTC wing. Existing math classrooms are being converted into science labs, and the cafeteria is being enlarged with more serving lines.

“We have an existing 82,000 square feet down there at the school, and we’re adding 51,000 and then making renovations to another 28,000,” said Earl Colvin, director of facilities and operations for Jones County schools.

This increase in square footage will increase the current building size by about 60 percent. The additional space will allow the ninth-graders to move back to the main campus. Currently, they are located at the Ninth Grade Academy on Maggie Califf Street. Once the ninth-graders move to the main campus, there will be 1,500 students at the high school.

“I think the primary goal is being a one high school system,” Gibson said.

A major focus of the project is the creation of a College and Career Academy. The academy will help prepare students for life after high school by providing them with real world experience through training programs.

“We just want to have a more prepared graduate, whether it be for college or the workforce. And we felt this College and Career Academy approach gave us a more focal pathway to meet the needs of our students and also to meet the demands of our community in Middle Georgia,” Gibson said.

Construction began in January 2018 and will continue into July 2019. Parrish Construction Group and Robertson Loia Roof have guided the project as construction manager and architect.

"It's an 18-month project, and some portions of this project will be complete prior to August of 2019, but it will be August of 2019 before the ninth-graders will have adequate space at the main high school campus to relocate,” Colvin said.

Teachers and students can expect to see the new science labs, front entrance, meeting room and weight room facility complete by the first day of school, Aug. 1.