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Different grading: Work starts on site of new South Hall middle/high schools
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Some 20 earth movers began ripping into 138 acres of South Hall land this week to make room for Hall County’s seventh middle and high schools.

"We’re kicking up some dust down there," construction manager Jerry Huguley told the Hall County Board of Education on Monday night.

Grading at the site off Spout Springs Road, behind The Springs Church and near Spout Springs Elementary, is expected to last about two months. Then, work on the foundation will begin.

Huguley said Tuesday that he didn’t expect to encounter any problems, other than watching out for creeks that flank the property.

"It’s a straightforward grading job, just a big one," he said.

Simpson Trucking Co. workers will end up moving some 550,000 cubic yards of dirt for what will be the footprint for the $30 million school, set to open in fall 2009, Huguley said.

When finished, at 252,000 square feet and a capacity for 1,800 students, it will be the largest school ever built in the Hall system.

By comparison, the most recent high schools, Flowery Branch and Chestatee, each are 186,000 square feet and have the capacity to handle 1,325 students.

Initially, the building will house a middle and high school. School officials expect that eventually it will house only the high school and a new middle school will be built on the site.

The schools are being built to accommodate rapid growth in the area.

Only about two miles separate Spout Springs Elementary and Flowery Branch High, which are joined by heavily traveled Spout Springs Road.

Aside from construction, another big job for the district will be deciding who goes to the new schools.

Will Schofield, Hall schools’ superintendent, said the district plans to begin discussing that issue early in 2008.

"We ... hope to have hearings and decisions made during the fall of 2008," he said.

The system is looking at offering some limited choice of which schools children can attend based on programming, such as International Baccalaureate, specialized vocational offerings and fine arts.

"We are continually evaluating our school capacities and student growth to determine just how much choice we can allow and still have classroom space for all of our students," he said.