Plans to replace an aging school in the Laurel Bay military community are moving forward, with construction contracts to be awarded this year.
Construction bids for the $29 million to $36 million Bolden Elementary/Middle School will be sought next month, according to the Federal Business Opportunities website.
The new school will replace the current Bolden school, which serves third through eighth grades, principal Vicky Parr said.
Galer Elementary School, which houses preschool through second grade, will be demolished as part of the project, and its grades will be moved to Elliott Elementary School in Laurel Bay. Minor work will be done to Elliott to accomodate the new students, Parr said.
Newer additions to the current Bolden school, such as a gym, will remain intact and be turned over to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Parr said.
High school-age students from military families attend public schools in the Beaufort County School District.
Bolden Elementary/Middle School, which opened in 1962, has about 375 students, Parr said. Originally called Laurel Bay Intermediate School, it was renamed in 2004 after S.C. native and current NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Both Bolden and Galer schools faced environmental complaints from parents and teachers in 2010. Between February and August of 2010, several agencies tested for toxins such as asbestos and chemicals in the drinking water, but none was found at levels that would have caused health problems.
The schools were on the military's calendar for replacement this year, but it was unclear if they were to be completed by 2014 or for the replacement process to start in 2014. Attempts to reach Chuck King, the school construction project's manager, for comment were unsuccessful.
Parr said the school will be constructed on sports fields near Elliott Elementary School.
The two-story, 104,000-square-foot structure will have a metal roof and a geothermal mechanical system to heat water, the posting said. It is expected to take about three years to build, but Parr said construction could end sooner, with a possible opening in January 2017.
The construction contract is expected to be awarded by the Southeast Division of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in mid-November, according to the bid posting.
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