Unity School gifted to LaGrange Housing Authority

Published 8:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

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At their meeting on Sept. 23, the Troup County School Board adopted a resolution to donate the Unity Elementary School building at 525 Park Avenue in LaGrange to the LaGrange Housing Authority. The donation is contingent the LHA being approved for grant money for a project to bring support services to the site. Under the agreement, a portion of the property would be leased back for use by the Troup County School System.

According to the resolution, the building will be transferred to the housing authority after the LaGrange Memorial Library and the Montessori School relocate from the building.

LaGrange Housing Authority CEO Zsa Zsa Heard plans to use the building to provide services such as 24/7 childcare, classes from West Georgia Tech, life skills classes, a health center, mental health services, tutoring, and transportation from West Georgia Star. Organizations such as United Way, Communities In Schools, Head Start, the Troup County School system, West Georgia Tech, Circles, and the Boys and Girls Club will be housed in the building, offering their services.

“The Housing Authority is already providing some of these services,” she said during an interview. “It’s just that we need more services, and we don’t want to continue to duplicate services, so when all the partnerships came together, that really made it great. Everybody came on board, and everybody was sold on the idea.”

Heard said she hopes that when people leave the service center, they’ll have “a complete, holistic way of learning to adapt, trying to fix the issue that they have.”

Heard had the idea to transform the building into a community resource center when she realized that the pandemic was exasperating challenges faced by community members.

Remodelling and maintenance for the building are expected to cost $4 million, which the LaGrange Housing Authority says would come from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

In other business at the meeting:

  • The board agreed to send three board members with Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate to help with a redistricting study.

“Because the 2020 census data is now complete, it’s time for us to look at our board district’s boundaries,” Shumate said. “So I contacted the division of the state legislature called the reapportionment office, and they’re working on it now to overlay the 2020 census on top of the current board district to see what the numbers look like.”

Shumate said he and the three board members would go to the reapportionment office to bring the information back, and “tweak it as they wish” to bring it before the board.

Board members Ferrell Blair, Brandon Brooks, and the Rev. Allen Simpson were chosen to assist with the study.

  • The board approved Torrance Construction as the winning bidder to modify a gym classroom to a new locker room at Troup High School for $215,000.
  • The board approved the renewal of annual licenses from Imagine Learning at a cost of $45,347.68 to provide software for English learners. 
  • The board approved the administration of ACT tests to all third-year high school students in Troup County at a cost of $36,800.00.
  • The board approved the purchase of air quality control devices from Surelock Technology for a total of $186,027.00. The devices detect vaping fumes, smoke, THC, and sound abnormalities.

“The Halo Sensor monitors use audio analytics to alert when triggered by spoken key words, abnormal noise level detection, gunshot detection, shouting, excessive banging, and bullying,” says a meeting document.

The devices will be installed at LaGrange High School, Long Cane Middle School, and Gardner Newman Middle School.

  • The board approved a purchase order in the amount of $97,263.92 for a new intercom system at Callaway High School. The previous system was struck by lightning.
  • The board approved the annual renewal of the iBoss content and security filtering service from Howard Technology Solutions for $54,360.00.
  • The board approved the purchase of an additional 14-passenger multi-function school activity bus from Yancey Bus Sales and Service for $67,500. 
  • The board approved a memorandum of understanding with the West Point Development Authority, Ridgeline Property Group, LLC, and Glovis Georgia, LLC for the construction of a new industrial facility in West Point. 

“Hyundai Glovis Georgia will work with a general contractor to develop a new, state-of-the-art 310,080-square-foot sub assembly and sequencing facility [that] will be used to assemble and distribute components to meet the strict demands and timetables of its suppliers,” says a meeting document. “Hyundai Glovis Georgia has estimated $21 million in real property investment, $4 million in personal property investment and the creation of 70 full-time direct hires. Based on these commitments, the West Point Development Authority is offering a property tax abatement of 50% for the first seven years.”