New middle/high schools for McDonough

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

A new middle school and high school campus will be operational in McDonough within five years if the Henry County Board of Education’s plans come to fruition on schedule.

The board voted last week to purchase 86.37 acres of property immediately south of the McDonough post office for $5,082,000. Officials said that price was more than $2 million under the land’s appraised value, and the sellers will be acknowledged for a donation equal to the balance.

The school system considered 12 sites before deciding on this one. The northern boundary is Postmaster Drive and the western boundary is Zack Hinton Parkway (Hwy. 155), whose intersection with Hwy. 81 (Keys Ferry Street) is about 800 feet from the property.

Officials chose the site because of better access to public roads, access to state highways, the amount of usable acreage and the cost of development projected to be lower than other sites under consideration.

The vote to approve the purchase was 3-2 with Annette Edwards and Donna McBride voting against. Edwards and McBride had attempted to table the vote until next month but their motion did not pass.

According to the resolution, the contract offer was made by contract offer by Gail W. Notti and Blanton Pope Welch. The land is owned by the Welch family. A.J. “Buddy” Welch and his firm of Smith, Welch, Webb & White have represented the Henry County Board of Education since 1970 according to the firm’s website.

School system spokesperson J.D. Hinton, in response to several questions emailed by the Times, stated, “This land is strictly for a McDonough High School and McDonough Middle School and their shared athletics facilities.”

The land purchase and the construction costs will all be covered under the current E-SPLOST which voters approved in March of this year.

Officials hope to have the facilities ready for use in the 2019-2020 school year.

The property is less than a mile from the current Henry County High School campus, while Henry County Middle School is a few miles away at another location.

“The impetus for constructing the new facilities is due in large part to the need for the entire space of the current Henry County High School to be used by the Academy for Advanced Studies and our post-secondary partners. AAS continues to surge in popularity all across the county and the space is needed,” Hinton stated.

“Also, constructing the high school gives the opportunity to construct a new middle school right next to it in the same manner as eight of our other high/middle school clusters enjoy. Henry County Middle School is one of the oldest buildings in our district currently.”