Summer renovation and construction projects for several local schools are under way, with workers strapped to tight schedules to ensure all the mess is gone before students arrive.
In the Dalton Public Schools system, the work is on the new home for Morris Innovative High School as well as at Dalton Middle School and Dalton High School. For Whitfield County Schools, officials are renovating the future home of Crossroads Academy on Airport Road, finishing up the brand new Eastbrook Middle School, and knocking out a wall and some new carpet at Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy.
Morris Innovative’s students are moving from their current location next to Blue Ridge School up to Fort Hill to accommodate the student population that is growing from just under 300 students to an estimated 500.
Principal Jennifer Phinney said the “bones of the (Fort Hill) building” are good, but there’s a lot of interior work that is being done. One of the rooms will be converted into a health care lab. Some of the rooms that were subdivided to accommodate the needs of NorthStar Educational and Therapeutic Services, a regional school that serves children with special kinds of disabilities, will be remodeled so they’re suited for normal-sized classes. NorthStar will move into Morris’ old facility.
The cafeteria is undergoing a renovation Phinney said would give the eating area “a really neat, urban-chic sort of furnishing” with booth seating, a coffee bar, pendant lights and stations for charging and using electronic devices. The work is at least partially funded by a federal grant. Yet she said some of the work needed to be completed regardless of whether Morris had planned to move there.
“Everything is being repainted and new flooring put in, and we’re getting a new roof which that building really needs,” she said.
Meanwhile, Crossroads Academy, an alternative school that had been housed at Fort Hill along with NorthStar, is moving to a facility on Airport Road. Until the 2011-2012 school year, that building housed Phoenix High School, a special purpose school operated by Whitfield County Schools that has since moved to a wing at the Career Academy.
Crossroads Principal Donna Harris said the renovations are to update the electrical and technology infrastructure, replace heating and air conditioning units, and repaint.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that everything will be finished by mid-July,” she said.
Board of Education members approved spending up to $330,000 on the project, but board member Rodney Lock said he understands the work is coming in several thousand dollars under budget because the district's own employees are doing some of the work.
Keith Burran of construction management firm M.B. Kahn said Eastbrook Middle is on schedule to be completed in time for the opening of school on Aug. 9. The $24 million building is being paid for through bonds the school system took out and hopes to repay with a proposed 1 percent education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) up for a vote in the July 31 primary election.
The building replaces the 1965 structure that students, teachers and others who used it said wasn’t built to accommodate the technology needs of today’s students.
Career Academy CEO Tim Fleming said renovations at several middle schools and high schools will begin after school starts this fall. The work will allow the Career Academy to expand its presence to other school campuses as teachers rotate throughout the schools.
The summer work at the Career Academy will consist of knocking out a wall near the cafeteria and replacing the carpet in the commons area with tile that Fleming said won’t wear out so quickly. That work should begin around the end of July, he said, and be complete by the time students return. Funding from a $2.6 million grant the school received for renovations there and at the other campuses will pay for the work.
Dalton High School’s exterior is being cleaned and caulked to extend the life of the building and “reduce overall maintenance,” officials said. Work began June 11 and is expected to be completed days before students return.
Dalton Middle School is adding two new mobile units at a cost of $60,000 and is getting some other renovations. Gym and media center lighting will be replaced, a large classroom will be converted into two smaller ones, and a hall entry will be installed to the technology room for about $155,000. The money comes from the school system’s general budget.
• Eastbrook Middle School — Architect Perkins + Will is finishing new, $24 million building next to the old school.
• Crossroads Academy — Renovating old Phoenix High School building at 2818 Airport Road for up to $330,000 in preparation for Crossroads to move in this fall.
• Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy — Wall removal as part of cafeteria expansion, replacing carpet in commons area. Covered with parts of a $2.6 million grant the academy received last year for several expansions.
• Dalton Middle School — Two new mobile units set up by M Space Holdings LLC of Douglas, Ga., for $60,000. Replace gym and media center lighting, convert large classroom into two separate rooms, install hall entry to technology room. About $155,000 by Felker Construction of Dalton.
• Dalton High — Exterior clean, caulk and seal by Statesville Roofing and Building Restoration Inc. of Statesville, N.C., for $166,000.
• Fort Hill — $2.825 million to renovate the building for Morris Innovative High School to move into this fall. Cope Brothers Construction Inc. is handling major work including flooring, painting, exterior ramping and minor modifications with other contractors handling smaller portions such as kitchen equipment and furnishings.