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School systems have a few renovations to show off as year starts, while some work continues
Work on new North Hall performing arts center, Gainesville Ninth Grade Academy top the project lists
A crew from Carroll Daniel Construction Co. works near a retaining wall at North Hall High School earlier this summer as part of constructing the school's new theater.

What’s new

As parents prepare their children to return to school by picking out new backpacks and purchasing school supplies, area schools are preparing as well.

A number of projects took place throughout the summer to bring Gainesville and Hall County schools up to standards for class to resume in August.

But in Hall County, one of the biggest summer projects won’t be complete until next year: North Hall High School’s performing arts complex.

"The former building has been demolished and the new facility, which includes a larger state-of-the-art auditorium, drama, chorus and band suites, is under construction," said Brad Brown, human resources director for the Hall County School District. "The project is scheduled for completion summer 2016. Student foot traffic will be rerouted around the area during the construction phase for the 2015-2016 school year."

Hall County also modified and renovated kitchens at several schools, including providing air conditioning in kitchens at World Language Academy, Flowery Branch Elementary School, South Hall Middle School and Davis Middle School.

These kitchens did not have air conditioning before, and working conditions were hot. Now, every Hall County school kitchen has air conditioning.

A number of technology improvements were also made in Hall County, according to technology director Aaron Turpin.

Technology labs at North Hall Middle School, Davis and East Hall Middle School should create a more collaborative learning space.

"In a traditional classroom you have desks where students work by themselves, and it’s prohibitive from collaboration," Turpin said. "The renovations include taking all the computers that were traditionally set on big tables, taking up the entire room, and putting them on countertops around the perimeter of the room ... leaving the middle of the room for collaboration."

Turpin added that the room also has new projectors and televisions students and teachers can use.

"These classrooms are used for five uniquely different classes throughout the school day," Turpin said. "So it will work for whatever the class is."

Security camera systems were added or updated at all 20 county elementary schools, providing a uniform camera system throughout the district. As part of a districtwide update, Wi-Fi renovations were completed on all middle and high schools, and 100 classrooms received new audio/visual systems.

Gymnasiums at several schools received new flooring, including Lanier Elementary School, Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy and Lula Elementary School.

According to Brown, the new material is a higher quality and more resilient than previous flooring.

In Gainesville City Schools, a major roof replacement was completed at the Gainesville High School Performing Arts Center. The city’s biggest facility update was renovations to create the new Gainesville High School Ninth Grade Center in the building that previously housed Wood’s Mill Academy.

Finally, a few modular classroom buildings were added in both Hall and Gainesville, including a unit at Johnson High School containing 14 regular classrooms, restroom facilities and support spaces.

"We’ve also installed a new modular at Gainesville Exploration Academy," said Adrian Niles, Gainesville’s director of maintenance and operations. "Otherwise, the Ninth Grade Center, as far as instruction and learning, that whole environment is a big change and is going to be an out-of-the-box experience."

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