Members of the Glynn County Board of Education appears to have taken the concerns of their constituents to heart, something governments don’t always do.
On Tuesday, after executive sessions in a morning work session and an evening regular meeting, they voted to begin the process to purchase 27.65 acres nearly a mile north on Altama Avenue to build a new Altama Elementary.
It is a wise move by the board and one we are sure the community, students and parents all appreciate.
As a quick refresher, the board had decided earlier this year to build the new school — which is sorely needed — on the same site Altama Elementary currently sits. That plan quickly drew the ire of parents and local advocates because the available space behind the current building is immediately adjacent to federal Superfund cleanup site where carcinogenic toxaphene was dumped before the landfill closed in 1980. Harmful levels of toxaphene were not found on the school site during testing by a consultant hired by the school system, but the property’s proximity to the old landfill rightfully raised red flags.
Building the school on an existing site makes sense in many ways. Burroughs-Mollette Elementary is under construction right now immediately behind the current building, but no environmental issues are present there.
At Altama, on the other hand, there are simply too many unknown variables about where the contamination may migrate and how they might impact building crews, and later students and staff, once the ground is disturbed.
Thankfully, the school board listened and decided risking the safety of children is not worth saving money.
There may also be some benefits to building at the new proposed location at 6045 Altama Ave. Superintendent Virgil Cole noted Tuesday that, should everything go as planned, building at the new location will not disrupt school operations and presents the potential for a geothermal heating and cooling system, something that presents long-term savings for a school that will need to last at least a few decades.
There are still hoops through which the board must jump. Both the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Department of Education must sign off on the new site.
We hope that process goes well and for the school to begin construction soon.
We also commend the school board and administrators for listening to the public and ultimately making the correct decision.