Bibb County breaks ground on new elementary school

A new school is going up on Shurling Drive, just the latest shot-in-the-arm project for east Macon.

Bibb County leaders gathered for a groundbreaking Tuesday afternoon for the new elementary school, which is being built in the 1300 block of Shurling.

The 96,000-square-foot building will replace King-Danforth and Jones elementary schools and is projected to open in August 2015.

Jason Daniel, executive director of capital programs for the school district, said it wasn’t “economically feasible” to upgrade the two older buildings.

“They weren’t built for today’s modern technology,” he said, also pointing to required modifications for special needs and prekindergarten instruction.

The new school will be just the latest in a series of positive moves for east Macon. Down the street, the National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team just moved into a new headquarters, and the former Hunt Elementary School building was recently approved for conversion to a multifamily residential development.

Last month, Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reich­ert announced tentative plans to develop the long-dormant Bibb Mill site on Coliseum Drive for a 5,500-seat minor-league baseball stadium, with adjacent restaurants and small hotels, plus a parking deck.

As for the school, school board member Ella Carter said the new building would be a welcome addition for east Macon residents.

“I don’t know when the last time (was), but I know it has to make them happy,” she said.

Adjacent to the old King-Danforth building, the school will cost about $13.6 million to build, funded largely from designated sales tax proceeds. It is the second of three elementary schools set to be built during this funding cycle.

The first was the new Heard Elementary building -- scheduled to open in January, and the other will be at the old Morgan Elementary site on Faubus Avenue. Construction on that school will begin in May.

Besides being the school board member who represents the area surrounding King-Danforth and Jones schools, Carter spent 15 of her 47 years in education as principal of Jones Elementary. She liked what she saw in a rendering of the new building.

“The prospects look good, ... and I think when students are in an environment to learn, they learn,” she said.

Carter also heads up the committee in charge of selecting a name for the school, still a work in progress.

SP Design Group handled the architectural plans for the project, and Chris R. Sheridan & Co. is in charge of construction.

Sheridan said there was something “neat” about being involved in building a school.

“With schools, we’ve got an opportunity to build minds as well as buildings,” he said, “and that makes them special.”

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.