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Land swap could mean new building for Boys & Girls Clubs
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The Hall County school board is looking at a land swap that would enable the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County to build a 25,000-square-foot center next to Lyman Hall Elementary School.

Lyman Hall principal Aaron Turpin talked Monday night at the Hall County Board of Education’s monthly work session about the possible deal.

He said that work could start on the first phase of the center in late winter or early spring with a projected opening in the fall of 2008.

The initial construction would involve up to 20,000 square feet of space and feature an indoor soccer field surrounded by eight to 10 multipurpose classrooms, Turpin said.

He added that he foresees Lyman Hall being able to use club space during the school day and in the evening programs.

In addition, Boys & Girls Clubs already provides a "Falcons Fitness" physical education program at the school every Wednesday.

"This will be a wonderful addition for our children at Lyman Hall," Hall schools Superintendent Will Schofield said.

The land swap would involve about 1.56 acres of Hall County property and enable the organization to build the center closer to Memorial Park Drive, which the school fronts.

Hall schools would buy current, adjacent Boys & Girls Clubs property for $55,000 and sell the 1.56-acre property back to the clubs for the same amount.

The organization is waiting "to get with the architect and make the final drawings," Turpin said. "... The funds are at hand to build the building and the investors ... want the building built."

Richard Higgins, board chairman, said he believes the board might consider selling the property at a lower cost.

Turpin, who is also on the Boys & Girls Clubs board of directors, said, "If the price did go down, there would be more building for the boys and girls."

Joe Ethier, chief professional officer for the clubs, wasn’t at the Monday night meeting and couldn’t be reached for comment earlier in the day.

Board member Sam Chapman asked for the board to spend more time considering the project.

"I want to totally understand it," he said.

In other business, the board approved a resolution to sell $2.6 million in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds to set up "language acquisition labs" at Lyman Hall, Myers and Tadmore elementary schools, and East Hall and South Hall middle schools.

Those schools have large Hispanic populations.

Under the federal QZAB program, the system would pay no interest on the bonds during the 15-year term and would actually end up paying back less money because of interest earned through the period.

And the board also talked about beginning to search for a principal to head the school system’s planned World Languages Academy, a charter school that would take the place of Chestnut Mountain Elementary School in the fall of 2008.

Chestnut Mountain is planning to move to a new building next fall off Union Church Road.

The academy would feature a "dual-language immersion" program beginning with students in kindergarten through second grade. Students who speak English as a first or second language would take state-mandated classes in English and Spanish.