CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN -- With a splash of paint here and there and the paving of some parking spaces and a driveway, Hall County schools will have its first set of administrative offices outside of its Green Street location.
The school system is preparing to open the new offices next to the new 900-student Chestnut Mountain Elementary School, which is being built off Union Church Road in South Hall and is set to open in the fall of 2008.
And because a 4,000-square-foot house came with the property for the school, the district won’t have to do much work, or spare much expense, in setting up the new offices.
“One of the things we’re excited about is (the new offices) will allow us to be more efficient and service-oriented,” said Jim Sargent, the district’s student services director.
The school system plans to move student services to the new building, as well as provide space for employees who generally work in South Hall, such as social workers and nurses.
The move also will help ease overcrowding at the central office at 711 Green St., Superintendent Will Schofield said.
Sargent agreed that working conditions will improve.
“So few people (at the Green Street location) have windows,” he said. “Here, everything is so open and well-lit.”
The school system has grown administratively, as well in teachers and support staff, as it has picked up 800 to 1,000 students annually.
Just a few years ago, Hall County schools shared space at the Green Street location with Hall County government.
Also, the new two-story office will offer space for conferences and faculty retreats, as well as scenic views of the 84-acre school site from its wooden back deck and front, wraparound porch.
The former family room, which has a fireplace, could serve as the main conference room.
Also, Sargent foresees outside groups that work with Hall, such as a mental health agency, being able to temporarily use space at the office.
The house also features a full basement that Sargent said could be used for staff training and ample closet space that could used for storage rooms. In a recent tour of the house, he pointed out one walk-in closet in particular.
“This is about as big as my (current) office,” Sargent said. “We could do testing in here.”
The school system will need to add parking spaces for about 20 to 30 cars, as the office prepares to open by the second semester starting in January.
Overall, Sargent is proud of the school system’s find. “It has hardwood floors; everything is rock solid, much nicer than my home,” he said. “... You just can’t find cheaper and more desirable space.”
The property once had a swimming pool in the backyard, but workers filled it in. There’s still a well house on the lot.
As far as usage of the house’s spacious garage, “I have no idea. Maybe (parking for) employee of the month,” Sargent said, smiling.