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Gainesville Ninth Grade Center will give school face-lift
School for first-year GHS students moving into Wood's Mill Academy building
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O’Cean Holland, a freshman, and Chelsea Jones, a sophomore, sit outside after a day of school at Wood’s Mill Academy on Tuesday. The Gainesville school board approved $97,150.63 in SPLOST IV funds for renovations to turn Wood’s Mill Academy into what will be the Gainesville High School Ninth Grade Center. Wood’s Mill Academy will move to some modular units to make room for the center. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Gainesville High School will open its ninth grade center to students in the fall, and the older campus it’s moving to will get a new look with it.

Adrian Niles, school maintenance and operations director, said the center is meant to alleviate growing needs for space at the high school.

“The state (Department of Education) continues to show that we have need for additional classroom spaces at the high school,” Niles said. “So as we’re looking at spreading the ninth grade into the Wood’s Mill building, we’re looking at how we might remodel and revamp that building, give it a new face-lift and a rebranding.”

Brian Daniel, president of Carroll Daniel Construction, presented a rendering of the center’s future façade at the Gainesville City School Board meeting Monday. The board approved the use of $97,150.63 in SPLOST IV funds for the renovation.

In the past several years, the school has done several interior updates as well. The building has new HVAC equipment, upgraded lighting, fresh paint and more.

“We’ve put some money into the building already,” Niles said. “Back in 2011, I think about $164,000-165,000 was done on HVAC unit replaces, and in 2013 we did about $800,000 of roof work, additional painting and some other repairs.”

The new project, which will begin when school lets out in May and finish by the end of July, will be to update and enhance the building for future students. Niles said it’s not just an aesthetic improvement but will ensure the building is viable for years to come.

“We’re going to be reworking the roof structure on the central piece, basically enclosing an area,” Daniel said. “You can see daylight through an area, but that’s all going to be enclosed and framed in. It’s a potential issue with water infiltrating the building there, so we’ll close that off.”

Daniel said the project will also include repainting some rusted areas, caulking and sealing windows along the entire front, strengthening columns at the front entryway and adding aesthetic improvements, such as a more uniform color scheme and stonework.

Above the main entrance will also be large signage that reads “GHS Ninth Grade Center.”

Niles said additional painting and plumbing updates will also be required on the interior of the building. Another proposal will be presented to the board for approval at a later date.

“Tonight, we just wanted to show you a conceptual of what the building will look like on the outside,” he said at Monday’s school board work session.

Elsewhere on the property, a modular unit will house the nontraditional learning environment currently dubbed Wood’s Mill Academy. This school will get a new name before next year, Superintendent Wanda Creel said.

“From a branding and a marketing standpoint and wanting to put our best foot forward for the students that are choosing to be in that nontraditional environment known as Wood’s Mill previously, we feel it is in the best interest to have a fresh impression in our community,” she said. “We will work with our students and faculty to come up with what that name will be.”