The Hall County school board on Monday rejected the third version of a plan regarding construction of the district’s second replacement elementary school.
The 133,000-square-foot school would replace Oakwood and McEver elementary schools, with a total budget of $45.8 million. It would be able to hold up to 1,025 students and is expected to open in the fall of 2025.
As part of the district’s 10-year facility plan adopted in 2019, the school board approved the construction of four new elementary schools, which would replace seven existing schools: McEver Arts Academy, Myers Elementary, Oakwood Elementary, Riverbend Elementary, White Sulphur Elementary, Tadmore Elementary and World Language Academy.
This would bring the total number of elementary schools from 20 to 17. The average age of elementary schools in the district is about 42 years.
Matt Cox, director of facilities and construction, presented a plan by which the new elementary school would be built on the site of Oakwood Elementary. But school board members rejected the plan because it would force students to relocate all the way up to White Sulphur Elementary during the second year of construction.
“I’m not real comfortable moving (the students) all the way to White Sulphur,” said Craig Herrington, chairman of the Hall County school board. “It’s better for the kids to not be on the property when we’re doing that much construction, but that’s a pretty far drive.”
White Sulphur would be vacant because by that time the students there would have moved into the new Sandra Dunagan Deal Elementary School on Ramsey Road.
Cox said he will go back to the drawing board.
“I don’t like any of these plans,” Superintendent Will Schofield told the board. “I’m still not convinced we’ve found the best plan yet.”
Part of the trouble is that Oakwood Elementary School was apparently built on top of a landfill.
“If we were making the decision on Oakwood back when it was originally built, we probably wouldn’t have built it on top of a landfill,” Herrington said, eliciting laughter from those in attendance. He emphasized that the current school board did not make that decision.
In July, school board members approved $41.8 million in funding for the first replacement elementary school, later named Sandra Dunagan Deal Elementary School, scheduled to open in the fall of 2024. Schofield announced Monday that they will break ground Nov. 16.