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3 Hall County Schools building projects planned
Lanier Charter Career Academy, tech department to share new building
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Hall County Schools plan three building projects in the next year — an expansion of Lanier Charter Career Academy and new technology department, a new fieldhouse for West Hall High School and a new roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning units at Flowery Branch Elementary School.

Requests for proposals will be sought for those projects in the next several weeks.

Cost estimates for the projects were not discussed at the county school board work session Monday, but it will be a few million dollars.

Superintendent Will Schofield told the board it may want to consider using part of its bond sales in connection with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV. The board approved selling up to $45 million in bonds. None have been sold.

The largest project will be the expansion of Lanier Charter Career Academy and the new “instructional support center,” which will house the district’s technology department.

The technology department is now at the Academies of Discovery, which is going to have a large classroom addition in preparation for South Hall Middle School moving back into the facility. That will occur for the 2018-19 school year.

Aaron Turpin, director of technology, told the board the technology department needs to move from its current space to the new facility in December 2017 — one year and three months from now.

Turpin explained the department needs to be moved so that it has adequate time to test the system before state testing is required in the spring of 2018.

The new building will have 28,000 square feet of space, Matt Cox, director of facilities for the district, said.

About 20 percent of the building will be for expanded programs at Lanier Charter Career Academy. David Moody, principal, said the school is “in desperate need of space” for programs such as welding and industrial mechanics.

He said Lanier Technical College has been generous in helping provide space and instruction for Lanier Charter Career Academy students, but it will be moving to a new campus.

The building would be behind the current Lanier Charter Career Academy facility and the Department of Labor building along Atlanta Highway. Construction would take about eight months, Cox said.

A new fieldhouse will be built for West Hall High by extending its older gym. The extension will provide a new locker room for the home team, bathrooms for the gym and new health space for the school. The existing fieldhouse could then be used for a locker room for visiting teams.

Cox said the project would require about six months, starting in about January or February. He said it should be ready for use about the time school starts in August 2017.

Design services for the West Hall High and Lanier Charter Career Academy projects are expected to cost about $410,000. The money is expected to come from SPLOST funds.

The board also heard a SPLOST request for $751,000 for technology.

That would provide 30 Chromebooks and three lockable storage cabinets for each elementary school and 40 Chromebooks and lockable storage cabinets for each middle and high school.

That is estimated to cost $451,000. It would cover about 1,000 Chromebooks.

The remaining $300,000 would buy computers for career and technical education courses. That would replace about 700 computers in the CTE program.

The board also heard an update on renovations done this summer at a cost of about $7.8 million.

Nearly $3 million of that was spent at North Hall High School, Cox explained. The list included about 20 projects.

The changes at North Hall included two new health care science labs, an agriculture mechanics class that is nearly double the previous size, new fitness room and locker rooms.

Johnson High School also had a project that “grew as we got into it,” Cox said.

He explained that the school was set to have new health care science and consumer science areas, but “we realized we needed more space.”

The international center at the school was moved to the Jones Elementary facility, and that building became the “Johnson High Annex,” Cox said.

Turpin explained that email systems at all schools were upgraded and the district now has redundant connectivity for its network.

“It’s not sexy at all, but it sure is important,” he said.

He explained the system lost connections — was without service — three times during the last school year.

The district’s plan to put in wireless audiovisual equipment that can be operated with any electronic device — a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone — is now complete through two phases. That includes 105 classrooms in the past year.

Turpin said the project through two phases cost $360,000 less than projected and proposed using that money to speed up the process of adding the equipment at Flowery Branch High School.

Schofield said Flowery Branch is “having failures almost on a weekly basis.”

The summer projects also included creating “common learning spaces” in what had been media centers at West Hall High, North Hall Middle and White Sulphur Elementary schools.

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