At last week's school siting task force meeting we came one step closer to being able to build a new school on our Junior High site and/or renovate and add classrooms at the Junior High. All but two members of the committee supported the following language in the recommendations section of the report.
1. Find alternative site in the UGA.
2. Allow school district to connect to existing sewer
Site specific: The Task Force encourages the district to work with the County and cities in the district to explore opportunities for finding an alternative site in the UGA that would meet the pressing need for additional capacity that development of another school would provide. If no viable alternative site within the district's fiscal plan can be immediately found, the availability of sewer and an existing school on the site present compelling reasons for development of the site to meet the district’s needs. The site does have conservation value and the Task Force recommends that any new development on the site occur adjacent to the existing school so that impacts to the site’s forest cover are minimized.
Though the recommendations are in priority order I feel good with the compromise that was reached. We made the decisions to support the process by engaging with the county to determine if there are any possible sites within the UGA that would meet our needs. If not, we can use our current site to meet our current and future housing needs.
It was an interesting experience working with people on both ends of the continuum to allow schools outside the UGA. For the most part, everyone attempted to suspend assumptions and work toward an agreement that supported schools while preserving the rural area. It worked in meeting our needs, but not that of all school districts as twelve to fourteen of the involved sites in the county are not being recommended as potential sites for future schools. We have one more meeting to see if we have consensus on the final report and recommendations. Barring any unforeseen circumstances we should be home free.