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First look at Cherokee Bluff Middle School shows 3 stories, larger classrooms
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Matt Cox, Hall County Schools' executive director of facilities and construction, revealed the district's preliminary floor and site plans for the new Cherokee Bluff Middle School during the Board of Education work session on Monday, Oct. 14. - photo by Kelsey Podo

If all of the pieces fall into place, Cherokee Bluff Middle School could have its own building by the fall of 2022. 

Matt Cox, Hall County Schools’ executive director of facilities and construction, offered a first glimpse into the design plans for the new Cherokee Bluff Middle School during the Board of Education work session on Monday, Oct. 14.

Will Schofield, Hall superintendent, reminded everyone that the project wouldn’t begin to move until a bond referendum is passed in March 24, 2020.

If the bond referendum passes, people can expect the addition of a 215,600-square-foot middle school on Cherokee Bluff Middle/High’s current 138-acre property. 

Before finalizing the floor and site plans with the architectural firm, Robertson Loia Roof, Cox received input from a seven-person committee. 

The group consists of Hall staff members, including Robert Wilson, Cherokee Bluff Middle’s principal; Kevin Bales, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning; Aaron Turpin, assistant superintendent of technology; Suzanne Jarrard, director of middle and secondary education; Kristin Finley, North Hall Middle School’s principal; Stan Souther, facilities project manager; and Greg Odell, e-learning specialist. 

The committee decided upon having a 86,900-square-foot, one-story level that includes the main entrance, administrative offices, cafeteria, technology and business labs, gymnasium and learning commons. 

The preliminary floor plan places the classrooms in a three-story wing toward the back of the building. The wing encompasses 128,700 square feet and is designed to accommodate 1,500 students. 

Cox said the classrooms are larger than the state’s 660-square-foot standard, reaching around 800 square feet.  

Wilson, principal of Cherokee Bluff Middle, said the large classrooms were intentional to foster collaboration. 

“We need more space where we can group kids together and have some of that flexible seating,” Wilson said. “We’re running a class size of 31 to 32 in a lot of our classes, so to have that expanded room is one of the things the committee looked at.”

The new floor plan limits the distance students walk between classes. 

“The interesting thing about this is that nobody goes more than one story,” Cox said. “They’re either going up a story or down a story.”

At the end of the work session, the board voted in favor of awarding Parrish Construction Company the bid pending a positive March 2020 bond referendum and the extension of an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. 

The next board meeting will take place at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, in the Hall County Schools Central Office.