A new school is needed in the southern portion of Hall County, according to officials.
At the Hall Board of Education meeting Monday, Superintendent Will Schofield named a new school as first on a list of facility priorities for a November vote on a one-penny sales tax for education.
Schofield said congestion in the Johnson High School or Flowery Branch High School zones, likely at the middle school level, is the No. 1 priority in the district’s need for the tax.
“No. 1 is at least one new school,” Schofield said. “And that’s going to be in either the Johnson High School district or the Flowery Branch High School district. We need more space for middle school and high school students in both Johnson and Flowery Branch.”
On the list of priorities, first is approximately $30 million to $50 million for new classroom space, which includes the new school. Another $30 million to $100 million is needed for renovations to existing facilities; as much as $30 million is needed for more student technology; and nearly $20 million would be dedicated to fine arts facility improvements at East Hall High School, Johnson High School and West Hall High School.
“We have a list of five-year facility priorities of about $160 million,” Schofield said. “If we just had an unlimited amount of money to spend on our facilities that are 50, 60 or 70 years old, we could spend $160 million fixing leaky roofs, putting in new air conditioning systems, building new classrooms where we’re still using portable trailers. But obviously we’re not going to spend $160 million over the next five years on these priorities.”
If the tax passes, the district would receive between $110 million and $140 million in revenue, according to estimates.
Other priorities include new school buses, school library collections and large band instruments, but completion of these would depend on the funds available.
Simply, Schofield said, first priorities have to be making room for children and fixing things when they break.
“Certainly, I can’t imagine what we would do in this district if we didn’t have access to that penny over the last 17 to 18 years,” he said. “It has been a wonderful gift to this community.”