W.C. Bradley Co. donates equipment to new MCSD STEAM center; board discusses police chief candidates

W.C. Bradley Co. donates equipment to new MCSD STEAM center; board discusses police chief candidates
Published: Jul. 9, 2018 at 8:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2018 at 12:16 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It's a less formal setting this week for the Muscogee County School Board, as board members move forward with pending business as listed for Monday's work session.

The board jumped straight to business, discussing the specifics of the district's brand new STEAM Center, and quickly receiving a generous gift to fund the science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program.

The donation, of an undisclosed amount, came courtesy of the W.C. Bradley Company, in honor of recently retired board chairman Stephen Butler, according to company CEO Marc Olivié.

"We thought it was an absolutely perfect opportunity to try and fund the equipment for the STEAM Center, so that he indeed could see that [Butler's] legacy is preserved," he said.

The new STEAM Center - still unnamed - will open inside a former county elementary school along Baker Plaza Drive, right by Spencer High School. By the start of this upcoming school year, robotics teams across the district will have first access to the facility, potentially attracting more talent and, per city councilor Bruce Huff, possible future jobs to Columbus.

"Imagine going forward," Huff said, "having kids learn all this in school - by the time you get out, it could take us to a new level."

Beyond student innovation, board members also discussed how they plan to recruit a police chief, captains and school resource officers to the district's new agency.

Some board members expressed concerns they want to hire a new chief with previous experience running an agency, but by the end of the discussion, Superintendent David Lewis and others on the board agreed they would prefer the right candidates already have experience overseeing a department.

The board still has to determine what salary figure it will offer officer candidates. Just this summer, a majority of members approved a $3.8 million plan hiring more than 20 full-time officers to patrol district middle and high schools.

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