Lanier Christian Academy, a private school in South Hall, is prepared to begin a massive expansion project following public approval of bond financing last week.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners approved $12 million in bond funding July 28, which comes after the school’s financing plans were reviewed and approved by the Gainesville-Hall Development Authority in June.
Lanier Christian is classified as a nonprofit, which means it needs public approval for its bond financing, according to a news release from the school.
The school’s enrollment has exploded in recent years, driving the need for expansion.
“Our school has witnessed incredible growth, particularly over the last two years,” said Mark Collins, chairman of the Lanier Christian’s board of trustees. “Our expansion plans are no longer a want — they are a clear and present need.”
Right now, the school doesn’t have a campus of its own. It rents the Chestnut Mountain Church on Strickland Road, with a modular building on the back side of the parking lot and seven individual trailers.
The K-12 school was formed in 2016 through the unification of North Georgia Christian Academy and Heritage Academy. Since then, it has grown to more than 530 students, increasing nearly 35% since 2020.
Lanier is planning a dramatic transformation over the 30 years, which is expected to cost $55 to $60 million. It is moving next door to a 34-acre site that it secured through donations, and once the expansion is complete, it will be able to accommodate up to 1,200 students.
The project’s first phase is scheduled to begin within the next several months with construction of the academy’s first permanent academic building, slated to open during the 2023-24 school year.
The building will include classrooms, a media center, a music room, a practice gymnasium, indoor playground, and a cafeteria.
The entire expansion includes two academic buildings, a competition gym, an arts center that doubles as a chapel, a multipurpose building and a football-soccer field.
Collins said more than half of the land for the future campus was donated through the estate of Loyd Strickland, a South Hall philanthropist who originally envisioned a Christian school for the area back in the early 1980s.
“It is quite fitting — and reaffirming — that Mr. Strickland’s vision for this land has come full circle to become part of our new future,” he said.
Al Gainey, Lanier Christian’s executive director of strategic giving and project development, said the location of the future campus just next door will also allow numerous cost efficiencies in the relocation effort. He also cited easier access to water and sewer in addition to the school’s high visibility in a busy growth corridor as additional advantages.