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Hall school board selects site for second elementary school. Here’s what you need to know.
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The Hall County school system plans a 133,000-square-foot school to replace Oakwood and McEver elementary schools.

Hall County’s second new elementary school is planned for a 17-acre piece of property on McEver Road after the school board ditched plans to tear down Oakwood Elementary and build the school there. 

The board approved an agreement Monday to buy the property, located at 5226 McEver Road, for $1.4 million from McEver Road United Methodist Church. 

The 133,000-square-foot school is set to replace Oakwood and McEver elementary schools, with enough room for 1,025 students. 

Students at Oakwood and McEver will transfer to the new school. 

Board members have approved a total budget of $45.8 million and say the school is scheduled to open in fall 2025, though it could be sooner. 

“We have a new piece of property that really enables the construction process to move a lot quicker because you’re not building on an occupied campus,” said school board member Mark Pettitt. “We got to get this project going.” 

The board’s agreement with the church allows the school district 30 days to figure out whether they can build a school on the McEver property, Pettitt said. 

“We're doing our due diligence right now,” he said. “We’re making sure that we can construct what we want to construct there. … It seems to me to be on pasture land with no structures, and the topography seems very suitable.” 

As part of the district’s 10-year facility plan, the school board has approved the construction of four new elementary schools, replacing seven existing schools: McEver Arts Academy, Myers Elementary, Oakwood Elementary, Riverbend Elementary, White Sulphur Elementary, Tadmore Elementary and World Language Academy.

That would reduce the total number of elementary schools from 20 to 17. The average age of elementary schools in the district is about 42 years. 

The district broke ground on the first new elementary school, Sandra Dunagan Deal Elementary, in November. 

The original plan was to build the second elementary school on the site of Oakwood Elementary, but school board members rejected the plan, saying they didn’t want to make Oakwood students travel all the way up to White Sulphur Elementary while the new school was under construction. 

“Initially, the goal was to construct alongside the existing Oakwood building but with children being on that campus, the further we got into the plans and the phasing of that, it became very clear that we just weren't going to be able to pull that off without relocating kids, and that was not something that was desirable for the community,” Pettitt said. “So when we found some property, we just thought this was a win-win situation.”

School board members say Oakwood Elementary is very old and appears to be built on top of a landfill, and they aren’t quite sure how much trash is buried there. 

Craig Herrington, chairman of the school board, said they also will save money by building at a new site. They would have spent about $1 million on temporary retaining walls if they built the school on the Oakwood Elementary property. 

Board members say there are no plans yet for what will become of Oakwood and McEver elementary schools. 

But Pettitt said Oakwood Elementary is in an excellent location, and they may still build a new elementary school there if enrollment grows enough. 

“I’m convinced we would want to hold on to that property and save it when we need to build another school,” Pettitt said. “The existing Oakwood site is so conveniently located to (Interstate) 985 and Thurmon Tanner Parkway. It's a good piece of property to have in our land bank.”