Gainesville school leaders hope to relieve bulging populations at two elementary schools.
Construction is underway for a two-story addition for classrooms at Centennial Arts Academy, and a new elementary school is being built in the Mundy Mill subdivision, scheduled to open in August 2017.
The two projects will cost about $22 million, funded from a combination of sales tax revenue and money from the state.
As of July 13, the city school district had 8,015 students enrolled for the 2016-17 year and that number is expected to climb a bit more.
The new elementary school will have a capacity of 750 students and can be expanded to 1,000, architects have said. The contract for the building is about $17.4 million.
The school, which has not been named, will be the only city elementary school that is not a program of choice, allowing any student in the city to attend. Instead it will have a particular attendance zone, though its shape and size have not been decided.
School leaders expect to redistrict students, moving some to Mundy Mill from Gainesville Exploration Academy, which has more than 1,000 students, and New Holland Knowledge Academy, which had 989 students enrolled as of mid-July.
The Centennial addition, which will have 30 classrooms, will allow the school to move students out of modular classrooms that are about 15 years old, Wanda Creel, Gainesville superintendent, said.
Creel explained that all of the city’s elementary schools and the high school have modular units to accommodate students.
The new building was scheduled for completion by December because it was to be used to house a portion of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy students who were set to move from their current building over the holiday break.
The future of rebuilding Enota is uncertain after the board’s agreement in late July to hold a meeting to discuss the project. A new school was to be built starting in May 2017, and that remains the official position of the board. However, a majority of board members indicated July 18 they likely would revisit that decision.
The Centennial construction is being paid for with Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV money, but the two new schools — Mundy Mill and Enota — are planned with ESPLOST V money.
The city schools also have more than 1,700 students at Gainesville Middle School and more than 1,900 at Gainesville High School.
Parents have questioned at least twice publicly why the system does not build a second middle school. Creel bluntly told one woman, “money,” when asked at a meeting in May.
The board also briefly discussed “how big is too big” in connection with the high school at a recent meeting. It was suggested the board should meet for a longer discussion on that topic — and related enrollment — but it has not yet occurred.
Creel suggested at a mid-July meeting that the city’s school enrollment may not increase a lot more because nearly all the city is developed.