Chambley talks consolidation at GVACC event

Published 9:00 am Friday, November 11, 2022

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School District Superintendent Casey Chambley spoke at the first Chambers County School District Lunch and Learn event since the pandemic hosted by the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. As the keynote speaker, Chambley discussed the county high school consolidation and answered questions about next steps.

This comes after the school board decided to build the new combined school building which will serve Valley and LaFayette High students in Valley.

According to Chambley, the school board hopes to move into the new building by the 2025-2026 school year. During his speech, he said that the school board has hired an Atlanta-based architectural firm called Cooper Carry to move forward with the schematics for the building.

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“They have gotten a proceed order on some surveying of sites and looking at some different things at the site,” Chambley said. “So they’re moving forward, that Schematics now should be done in December. We should move forward with some other design aspects in January-February.”

The school district and Cooper Carry will be hosting an open house on Nov. 17 at the Valley Community Center. The goal of the meeting is to get community input on details such as the new school colors, mascot, name and architectural design. Tables will be set up and citizens will take a passport to each table to give their feedback.

Chambley said the event will be an opportunity to get to know your community.

The superintendent added that many citizens have asked why there won’t be a similar event in LaFayette.

According to Chambley, the school board needed to find a neutral building that could host everyone, and there wasn’t a location in LaFayette that could accommodate them.

“One reason is that if we’re combining then we’ve got to get to where we stop having separate meetings,” Chambley said during the event. “We didn’t want to do it in either one of our high school gyms. We thought there would be too much of an emotional connection there to do that event in those facilities.”

Chambley said he met with bond agents Tuesday to secure funding. According to Chambley, last year when he met with the bond agents he could have borrowed $70 million with a debt payment of $2.5 million. Now, as interest rates are increasing, the payment on the $70 million will be $5 million.

“I tried to get our board to borrow the money last year to go ahead and secure the funds,” Chambley said. “I could have borrowed $70 million last year, put the $70 million in the bank, had them in CDs or other things earning interest and earning money to pay the interest even though we weren’t using the money.”

In answer to an attendee question, Chambley stated that as of now, the early schematic designs will have the new building at 170,000-190,000 square feet. That means that the building will have a student capacity of approximately 1200, depending on what happened with the career tech.

“We’re expecting some growth because there is some growth in Chambers County if you look at the census. It’s just growth in certain areas,” Chambley said. “We think that there is going to be growth, but it’s growing more on the Valley end.”