School board selects site for Early College

Published 8:59am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Miller approached the Polk County Board of Commissioners back in February seeking money for a new location.

The commissioners unanimously approved assisting the school board with the estimated $800,000 it would need for a new 8,000-9,000 square foot building or addition at the high school.
Miller said the school board approved offering $350,000 for the Hwy. 108 property, leaving $450,000 for potential additions.

The school board in March went ahead and selected John Walters as the project’s architect. Walters is currently working on plans for the necessary additions.

Miller said Walters was hired before the building was purchased so an architectural plan could be created. He said details need to be ironed out so the county commission could go forward with borrowing the $800,000 promised and seek approval from the Local Government Commission (LGC).

Polk County Finance Director Sandra Hughes said these things must be in place before the LGC will approve any financing plan. She said to even submit an application to the commission she must first have a multitude of things in place such as a purchase agreement for the property, specs and plans for any additions and bids.

Hughes said it then takes 60-90 days for the LGC to approve an application after it is received.

The Polk County Early College was created through funds from the Gates Foundation four years ago.

The aim was to allow students, who might not otherwise be able to attend college, the opportunity to obtain college credits up to a two-year associates degree. Students since then have attended classes at what once was the county’s library in downtown Columbus.

County commissioners are looking to locate a county vehicle tag office in that building once the Early College program has moved.

In a perfect case scenario, Miller said they’d like to have students in the new space by Christmas but he said he’s not sure things can move that quickly. He said worse case scenario would be that students attending the Early College program would begin classes in a new location by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

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