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Gainesville superintendent: New Mundy Mill school will have room to grow
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Wanda Creel, superintendent for Gainesville City Schools, explains part of the proposed layout for the new Mundy Mill elementary school. Duane Roof, rear, is one of the architects on the project. - photo by RON BRIDGEMAN

A new elementary school in the Mundy Mill subdivision will be built for 750 students but can be expanded to more than 1,000, a crowd of about 40 community residents learned at a meeting Monday night.

The Gainesville school district held the public session at the pavilion in the subdivision. Superintendent Wanda Creel explained details of the proposed school and responded to a burst of questions from area residents.

The building will be two stories. It will have 60 classrooms. The building, Creel said, will be “a $16.5 (million) or $17 million building.”

It also will have two entrances, one for buses to the side of the building and one for vehicles in front. Creel said both of those will allow traffic to back up on the school site rather than in the road.

It also will have a full-size gym, and the cafeteria will seat either 430 or 450 students at once, she said.

The school will face Millside Parkway. Creel said the “next couple of days are really critical,” but the system plans to hold its June 6 board meeting at the subdivision. At that meeting, she said, it is hoped that a construction contract can be approved — and a groundbreaking can be held at 7 p.m.

Creel also emphasized the “fast and furious” schedule for the school — planned for opening in August 2017.

The elementary school “will not be a choice school,” unlike the other five city elementary schools, Creel said.

Rather, she said, it will be “a true community school.” She pledged that all children in Mundy Mill will be able to attend the school — although she also emphasized that Gainesville schools are overcrowded.

One woman noted the system has only one middle school and wondered about another middle school built in the south end of the city.

Creel said that certainly will be a topic of conversation, but she pointed out the schools are in the midst of three building projects — a new classroom building at Centennial Arts Academy, the new Mundy Mill elementary school and a replacement school at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

“A middle school that large is too large, yet at this particular time we can’t change that,” Creel said, because of financial limits.

One woman asked why the school district doesn’t go ahead now with a larger elementary school — rather than plan for an expansion. “Money,” Creel said.

A man noted the Mundy Mill subdivision potentially could have about 1,100 houses. Would those children be allowed in a full elementary school, he asked.

Yes, Creel said. But she repeated that four of the five city elementary schools have modular units now.

“We are already out of space,” she declared. She said despite a recession, Gainesville schools have doubled in size in 10 years.

Creel said it would be logical to look at growth areas when planning new schools, and the south side is where the most growth is.

Several parents asked questions about operations — when teachers would be hired, kindergarten registration — and Creel said those will be answered when a principal is hired in January.

She also said the school district will consider a school attendance zone over the next several months. One woman from Maple Forge subdivision wondered about children from that area attending the new school. Creel said some additional areas outside Mundy Mill might be included in the attendance zone.

A name for the school also will be considered in the near future, Creel said, and noted the system is looking for ideas about that. The board is considering a policy about naming facilities, she said.

Delores Diaz, board chair for Gainesville City Schools, said, “I’m just so thrilled that we’re finally going to dig some dirt over here.” The new Mundy Mill school has been discussed, and planned, for more than a decade.

And, Diaz added, “It will be the first school in my ward.”

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