Gainesville City Schools kick-started work on a $31 million program to build a new school at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy and a brand-new school near the Mundy Mill subdivision on Monday.
The school board discussed the projects after the system sold $19 million in bonds earlier in the day at an interest rate of 1.69 percent.
The school system expects to start construction on an addition at Centennial Arts Academy in May. That addition is “the catalyst for us to move forward,” Wanda Creel, Gainesville superintendent, told the board.
That building will allow the system to move Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy students from their current building in December so that 60-year-old school can be demolished and rebuilt.
Creel explained the construction will take about a year — if the weather cooperates — and the new Enota facility would be open in January 2018, just after the winter break.
Creel said the new facility will include some of the traditions of Enota. The front doors will be the entrance to the new media center, she explained.
The facility will have a “traditional” or “neighborhood” look, she said, and as many features and plants as can be preserved will be part of the new school.
Creel noted the school cannot be demolished and replaced without disturbing features in the gardens. But the gardens are the “pride of that school” and the system wants to maintain that, she said.
A brand-new elementary school also will be under construction starting in May. That building will be near the Mundy Mill subdivision on a bit more than 22 acres — donated to the system by Wendell Starke.
The money for the Centennial project will come from SPLOST IV. The two new schools — Enota and Mundy Mill — will be constructed with SPLOST V and state money.
The $31 million for the new Enota school and the Mundy Mill school includes the $19 million in bonds plus about $12 million in state money, Creel said.
Debt service payments for the schools will be $4.2 million to $4.49 million for five years.
The bonds would be repaid over the life of the SPLOST. The final debt service payment would be in December 2022. The SPLOST V revenue would start in October; the referendum was approved in November 2015.
The two new buildings will each have about 60 classrooms, she said, cafeterias that will seat about 480 people and gyms with retractable bleachers that will seat 350 people.
Creel also explained the proposed traffic patterns for the combined Centennial and Enota students — which would start in January 2017.
She said Centennial parents may continue dropping off students in the front of the school. The addition will be behind the current building and across a road. A 17-foot-high awning will connect the two buildings. Creel said buses could get under the awning.
The fourth-grade and fifth-grade Enota students will use a modular unit that is behind the current Ninth Grade Center. Parents of those students will be able to drop off their children close to the modular unit.
The Centennial addition will have two floors — 30 classrooms — and will house Centennial students on one floor and Enota students on the other.
Drawings that show the traffic patterns will be at each school, Creel said, and also will be posted on the system’s website.
Creel added that anyone with questions about the building projects should contact the school system.