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Oconee County Schools Superintendent Jason Branch has recommended applying for state funding for the construction of a third middle school. The Board of Education will vote on a capital outlay project application at the Oct. 19 meeting. 

“A capital outlay application is an application provided to the Georgia Department of Education to access earned state funding for capital projects,” said OCS Director of Communications Anisa Sullivan Jimenez. “These funds are also known as ‘entitlements’ and are dollars that a school system has earned due to growth, enrollment, etc. This application is submitted to the GaDOE following Board approval.”

The funding, if approved for fiscal year 2022, would entail state funding of $5.4 million. It would be matched by local funds of $31.2 million, for a total price tag of $36.6. million. The application would be valid for five years.

The OCS human resources department takes a headcount of students twice a year, and those counts are run through a formula to come up with the final full-time equivalent figures.

“If the cost of that building were to increase by the time we build it, would that $5.4 [million] go up likely, or is it locked in based on the FTE?,” asked BOE member Tim Burgess.

Chief Operations Officer Brock Toole clarified that the $5.4 million in state funding is locked in currently. 

“There would have to be new growth in the middle school part of it with the FTE for it to go up,” he said. 

Enrollment at Malcom Bridge Middle School has grown 88.7 percent since the 2002-2003 school year. The middle school is currently just above its 1,000-student capacity with 1,017 students  enrolled. 

Likewise, enrollment at Oconee County Middle School has grown 5.5 percent since the 2002-2003 school year. The school is almost at capacity, with 944 current students for a 1,000-student capacity. 

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