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Polk early college renovations begin

Published 5:38pm Monday, April 14, 2014

Renovations and an addition have begun on a new Polk County Early College building with hopes to complete upgrades this summer for the new school year.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, April 7 and approved submitting an application to the N.C. Local Government Commission (LGC), which approves local governments applying for loans.

The county plans to borrow $800,000 for the early college, including an estimated $300,000 for the building purchase and $500,000 in renovations.

Commissioners approved a resolution for the LGC as well as approved a public hearing scheduled for the county’s next meeting on Tuesday, April 22.

The school system closed on the early college property, located on Hwy. 108 between Ashley Meadows and the high school, in January.

The school system requested the early college be located closer to the high school so early college students could be more integrated with the high school and it’s activities.

Commissioners agreed in January 2013 to help the school system finance a new facility.

The current early college, located in the county’s former library building on Walker Street in downtown Columbus, is approximately 5,000 square feet and serves classroom space for about 60 students. The larger facility, estimated to be between 8,000 and 9,000 square feet after renovations, could potentially house 80-90 students, according to school officials. The current building is approximately 3,600 square feet.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller said he hopes to have the new facility open to students by late August 2014. 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 associate’s degree.

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