The Tift County Board of Education broke ground today on the expansion at Tift County High School. The $21.4 million project will add approximately 114,000 square feet to the existing high school. The addition is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2018.
“This project is an integral step in the continued growth and success of our system and our students,” said Board Chairperson Kim Rutland. “It will make it possible to bring our ninth graders to our high school campus as well as increasing programs we can offer to our students.”
Once completed the project will add 42 regular classrooms, four new science labs and an auxiliary gym. The Commons and office areas will be expanded to accommodate the additional students.
The project will also add space for the newly approved College and Career Academy.
“The Tift County Board of Education, Southern Regional Technical College, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and community partners worked together to apply for and receive a $3.1 million College and Career Academy grant to assist with funds for construction of the facility,” said Craig Matthews, Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education at Tift County. “The partnerships created by the CCA will give business and industry the opportunity to work with the educational systems in our area to be innovative while developing a workforce that meets our local needs. This is a great chance for Tifton and Tift County business and industry to be a part of the education and training process of our future workforce; which will grow our economic development.”
The construction will add a healthcare science suite which will include five classrooms and two laboratories. One lab will be set up like hospital rooms while the second lab will be multipurpose for pharmacy, sports medicine and emergency responder pathways. The agriculture programs will also get two new classrooms and two new labs.
“We continue to see major growth in our region in these two fields,” Matthews said. “The demand for more workers is increasing while our local post-secondary education institutions also are offering more programs. Our students are interested in pursuing those opportunities.”
The expansion will also allow for better space for the current cosmetology program and the beginning of new computer science, engineering design and AV production pathways. There will be equipment upgrades to match industry standards in mechatronics, metals/construction and business labs.
“Our students completed 774 pathways last year in these fields,” Matthews said. “The CCA will help us to continue to grow, creating more successful students and better educating the workforce for local industries.”
The expansion project at the high school is the first piece in an overall grade reconfiguration for the system. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, all current primary and elementary schools will become Pre-K –through fifth grade, Eighth Street Middle School and Northeast Campus will house sixth-eighth grades and Tift County High School will become a true high school for ninth – twelfth graders.
“Currently, Tift County students will attend seven schools if they attend Pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade,” said Atwater. “Our new plan for how our schools will be arranged will cut that number to three. This will allow for stronger relationships to be formed between students, staff and parents.”
Other general renovations will be done at the high school that are necessary for a 20-year-old building. Those will begin in late 2017 to be completed in the summer of 2018.