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Work is underway on a new primary school in Houston County, which should mean students at another nearby school will no longer have to learn in mobile classrooms.
Grading work has begun for the new, unnamed school to be built on Thompson Mill Road in Bonaire. A ground breaking ceremony is set for 8 a.m. Wednesday. The school is expected to open for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, and will house 935 students in kindergarten through second grade.
Stephen Thublin, assistant superintendent for finance and business operations, said the students will mostly come from nearby Bonaire Elementary, which houses students in grades K-5. Once the new school opens, Bonaire Elementary will house students only in grades 3-5. Students from Matt Arthur Elementary may also come to the new school, depending on how the zone is set up, which hasn’t been determined yet, Thublin said.
Thublin said Bonaire Elementary is overcrowded with 855 students currently. It has had as many as 930 students. He wasn’t sure about the original capacity of the school but he said it has many portable classrooms to handle the overflow, which should go away once the new school opens.
The new school will be similar to C.B. Watson Primary and Langston Road Elementary. Forest Walker, the director of facilities, said one important difference is that the new school will have an extra 8-classroom wing. He said that’s because when the other two schools started up, they quickly filled to capacity.
The new school will house 925 students and have approximately 104,000 square feet, sitting on a 35-acre tract. It costs $21 million and is paid for from the 2017 education special purpose local option sales tax. The county is planning to widen Thompson Mill Road to help with the additional traffic the school will bring, Walker said.
Other construction projects currently underway in the school system include new gymnasiums for Perry, Northside and Warner Robins high schools. Perry’s gym is almost done and the other two will open sometime in the upcoming school year, Walker said.
A project that will be done for the upcoming school year is expansion of drop-off and pickup area in front of Lake Joy Primary, Shirley Hills Elementary, Russell Elementary and Westside Elementary. Walker said those will add additional space for cars to line up and should make the flow much smoother, as well as preventing the line of cars from backing into the road.