VALDOSTA -- Construction documents for the proposed new Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School campus are at the Georgia Department of Education awaiting final approval.

"We expect to get them back pretty soon," said William Aldrich, director of operations for the Valdosta City School System. "They've been there since the middle of December. It takes a while, but all schools built in Georgia must go through that department before proceeding with construction."

Georgia Department of Education officials must review the documents to make sure the school system's plans meet or exceed all state and federal guidelines relating to school facilities.

"We hope to start advertising for bids in the next couple of weeks," Aldrich added. "If everything goes as planned, we will start construction during the first of April, if not earlier. The school would open in time for the 2005-06 school year."

The proposal calls for the relocation of Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School from 930 Old Lake Park Road to Howell Road.

The Valdosta Board of Education recently purchased 28 acres at a cost of about $11,000 an acre on Howell Road, about one half mile from its intersection with Inner Perimeter Road. This is seven acres larger than the system's Sallas-Mahone Elementary School campus, which opened to students during the 2000-2001 school year, and is located at 3686 Lake Laurie Drive.

Regarding facilities, the proposed Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School, which serves 500-plus kindergarten and first-, second-, and third-graders, will be very similar to it's sister school.

"It's almost a duplicate," Aldrich said.

Standing at 99,304 square feet, Sallas-Mahone Elementary School boasts 44 classrooms plus art and music rooms, a computer laboratory, and an 8,277-square-foot gymnasium/assembly area. It has an 800-student capacity and was completed at a cost of $6.47 million. It serves approximately 550 students.

Aldrich said system officials budgeted $7.5 million for the construction of the proposed new Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School facility. This does not include costs associated with furnishing the completed facility.

Like Sallas-Mahone Elementary School, the Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School campus project will be funded entirely with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax monies. Both were designed by J. Glenn Gregory and Associates Architects P.C.

The original Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School campus was built during the 1950s, Aldrich said.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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