Sumter County Schools and Development Authority close land deal for new high school


AMERICUS, Ga- Sumter County Schools made a huge leap Wednesday in its goal of opening of a new high school campus. The school district and the Sumter County Development Authority officially sealed the deal for the location of the new Americus-Sumter High School. The partnership between the two agencies allowed the Sumter County Schools to purchase 432 acres originally zoned for industrial use across from South Georgia Technical College.  However, both educators and community development leaders agree there could be no better use for the land than making it the site of the new high school.

“We’re going into more technology-based schooling. It’s no more pencil and paper, so we need a school that can sustain all that,” says Phylisicia Lundy, incoming Americus-Sumter County sophomore.

That’s just what the school system is working to provide Lundy and her peers with the new Americus-Sumter High School.

Wednesday the Development Authority and school leaders met to make it official, to sign the paperwork, deeding the land along South Georgia Tech Parkway to the school system to build the new high school.

“It’s an entirely new process of getting a school built from the ground up, and it’s 48 million dollars, so we got to take a lot of care and time to do this, and make sure we do it right,” says Dr. Torrance Choates, Sumter County Schools Superintendent.

Dr. Choates adds the new high school, being built with future growth in mind, could prove a recruitment tool for students the district lost to private, charter, and neighboring county school systems.

“To regain some of those students,” says Dr. Choates.  “To offer them a nicer facility, with hopefully, a better academic structure in place, along with extracurricular activities.”

School leaders shopped around for a while for the best site for the new high school, and while the land was zoned for industrial use, the Development Authority believes selling it to the school system is the best investment in the future.

“We really determined the best fit was right here,” says Mary Beth Bass, executive director of the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, Inc, “so that we can demonstrate a true workforce development education partnership.”

“This is the beginning point of building any community,” says Barbara Grogan, executive director of the Payroll Development Authority. “When you educate students, they become your higher education students, they become your workforce, they become your citizens driving your community and leading it.”

South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford says having the new high school across the street will enhance the dual enrollment opportunities for students.

“It being right across the street, it’s easy to do the math,” says Dr. Watford. “We’ll be able to facilitate schedules such that students will be able to come right across the street and take classes, and we’ll also be able to share resources with the high school.”

Sumter County Schools hopes the new Americus-Sumter High School will be completed by 2020. If it is not done in time to start school that fall, administrators plan to wait to open it until the following school year.

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