shuttered school

Nearly $10,000 spent every month to maintain old school since it closed

The Board of Education has spent almost $90,000 on the now closed Pierce County High School so far this year. 
Assistant superintendent for finance LeVance Gay and Maintenance Director Harbin Farr gave a report on the expenditures at the old high school during the school board’s monthly work meeting last Thursday morning. 
Figures show the old school has been costing the system about $10,000 per month to maintain since it was closed earlier this year. Students moved in to the new Pierce County High School next door in January.
The school is costing about $9,000 per month in electricity, largely for heating and cooling. 
Farr said the transformers at the school have been left on at minimum power as well as the heating and air to keep mildew and mold out at least until the building is completely empty of surplus items. 
The gym has also been used for practices by local athletic teams during the recent rainy period. 
Fourth district board member Wendy Puryear asked if the system could renegotiate with Georgia Power to reduce the power costs. 
“We already have,” Gay explained. “This is basically a minimum charge.”
Farr did inform board members the system has eliminated an expense of about $1,500 per month for natural gas service at the old school. Gas used in the field house has now been routed through a tank there. The gas service has been shut off at the old school.
The system also pays $234 per month for insurance coverage on the old facility.
“We are doing what we can to eliminate costs of maintaining the old school,” Farr said. “Whatever we do, though, the cost won’t be zero.”
As a comparison, Gay noted the average monthly energy costs at the new PCHS are about $6,500. The old high school when fully operational had an energy bill of $20,000 per month. 
The school board has been discussing what to do with the old high school since the new one opened in January. 
No decision has been made. 
The board appears to be split on the decision. Outgoing first district board member Jack Saussy has advocated for tearing the building down, while others, including second district board member Mitch Hall and third district board member Chip Griner have asked for time to study the decision. 
School officials have said even if a decision were made to tear down the building, it would likely not be done until next summer. 
A decision was initially expected to be made on the fate of the school in August, but new school superintendent Dara Bennett asked she be allowed to focus her energies on re-opening school, getting adjusted to her office and dealing with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic before addressing the issue of the old high school. 
In January, SP Design of Macon, the system’s architect, gave the board projected costs on options for saving the building and tearing it down. 
The first proposed option was to tear down the building at a cost of between $530,000 and $708,000. The block and concrete would be sold to offset costs. 
The second proposal was to save the gym, the concession area and the administration area of the old school at a cost of $3,361,689.
A total of $1.1 million for demolition of the old PCHS was included in the construction budget for the new high school. 
There is no local or state funding set aside to cover the costs of renovations to save all or part of the old high school.