Two new middle schools could be coming to Laurens County.

On Thursday the Laurens County Board of Education passed a vote 3 to 2, allowing it to apply for approximately $8.3 million in state funding to build one of two possible middle schools.

Johnson said they've already lined up partial state funding for the other.

He said the county's current single middle school is old and in need of improvements and that the school board has voted twice to go to two middle schools -- in 2008 and 2012 -- as part of its long-term facilities plan.

Stacey Brooks, president of the West Laurens Middle School Parent Teacher Organization, disagrees with building two schools because it will separate students.

"By the time they're in high school it's almost impossible to build new relationships. You have children that are going to be thrown into a huge high school with people they don't even know. You do that on the middle school level, they're much more likely to acclimate and adapt to that environment," said Brooks.

Melissa Cowart is in favor of both schools, and said it will allow for smaller class sizes.

"Every year I ask my child do you know anyone in your class this year? Well I know one person or two people... so each year the kids are mixed up. There are so many students in her grade. That what happens is you have more difficulty making friends in large school," said Cowart.

Both schools are expected to cost about $16 million, he said. The state has agreed to pay $5.3 million for one, which would be built next to the Northwest Laurens Elementary School.

He said they have a site in mind for that second building, but have not closed on the land.

"All we're doing is applying for advance funding,' said Johnson, who has been superintendent for a year and a half.

If they don't get the funding they're looking for, he said, they may not proceed with the two-school plan immediately.

Johnson said he hopes to hold two more hearings on the plan before the end of the year.

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