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Old Gainesville Middle School to get new future

POSTED: November 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.

As the new Gainesville Middle School building nears completion, the Gainesville school board is considering possible uses for the current Gainesville Middle School building.

Merrianne Dyer, superintendent of Gainesville schools, said during a school board meeting Monday night that the system is considering shuffling quite a few programs over to the existing middle school building near Gainesville High School, including the high school’s ROTC program and the Alpine Psycho-educational Center, which is for students who have behavioral and educational problems.

Dyer said while there are many details to be ironed out before the district’s large new middle school opens in August near the Frances Meadows Center on Jesse Jewell Parkway, part of the existing middle school will house early childhood education programs.

All of the district’s prekindergarten programs will be relocated to the "old" or current middle school campus on Woods Mill Road, which will free up 12 classrooms in each of the district’s five elementary schools, she said. The Woods Mill Road school building also will house the international center, which now is at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, Dyer said. That move could result in at least six and possibly as many as 10 vacated classrooms at Fair Street.

Dyer said the old middle school building also will house the day care program currently operating out of three classrooms at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy.

Ultimately, the definite replacement of the three programs will free up at least 21 rooms to be used for elementary student instruction. That’s room the city’s overcrowded elementary schools need, Dyer said.

While system administrators have pinned down a few programs that must move to the Woods Mill Road middle school building, there’s still a lot of space left in the building that could be used for other educational purposes.

Dyer said administrators and the Gainesville school board are considering moving the system’s central office, now located on Oak Street, into the old middle school building. In addition, system leaders are reviewing the advantages of moving Gainesville High School’s Freshman Academy over to the old middle school building.

Currently, the ninth-grade academy’s math program is operating out of a 12-unit portable module on the high school campus.

"They’re doing fine there. But we’ve got the modular lease, and we could turn that back in," Dyer said.

David Shumake, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning for Gainesville schools, said moving the Freshman Academy program over to the Woods Mill Road building would not present problems for the credibility of the program. Shumake said the Freshman Academy would maintain its association with Gainesville High School.



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