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New Austin school is in district’s sights - Dunwoody Crier: News

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New Austin school is in district’s sights

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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 11:15 am | Updated: 11:06 am, Tue Dec 18, 2012.

Austin Elementary School sits on just over 10 acres of land and is one of seven schools that DeKalb County is planning to replace. However, the state requires at least 14 acres for elementary schools, but waivers could be granted in Austin’s case.

The school system is working with the Georgia Department of Education on a site selection process for all schools slated to be replaced, according to Joshua Williams, executive director of facilities management with DeKalb County schools. Williams told parents attending the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council meeting last week that the first phases of the process includes environmental and geographic analysis of the existing site.

The state will decide, said Williams, if waivers can be granted to use the current site for Austin.

The site application process and conceptual designs of the new elementary schools are expected to be completed by early spring, 2013, said Williams. The designs will be posted on the school board’s website for public view and input.

One parent asked if Kittredge would house Austin students while Austin was being rebuilt. Williams said he could not answer that question until the district works through a process relating to the use of all school facilities in the district.

Students attending Peachtree Charter Middle School can look forward to a new track by the start of next school year. Four middle schools in the county will receive the same new track facilities with construction during the summer months, said Williams.

Chamblee schools were also on the agenda including the vacant middle school on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road near the intersection of North Shallowford Road. The school system is evaluating all surplus properties and their future use which could include sale, lease or demolish, said Williams.

“Our intent is that the building is in bad shape and we plan to demolish it,” said Williams, “but the timing has not been defined at this point.”

The new Chamblee High School building is on track for completion by December 2013. Parents also learned that the new school will be equipped with wifi access. Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson plans to have wifi access for all schools in the district within the next two years, said Williams.

The CHS gym building and natatorium will also be ready for students by January 2014, but the auditorium will not be open until July 2014. The old high school must be demolished before the auditorium is built.

The high school will also have baseball and softball fields with new dugouts and a multi-use practice field. Parents asked if the fields will have lights and officials said there were no plans for lights as it is not a district standard.

When pressed, Williams said that he could make no promises for lighted fields even if the project comes under budget. In the event there are surplus funds, Williams told parents that Atkinson has directed those dollars to be moved to program contingency to support the whole of the district. This is true for all construction projects, not just CHS.

A foundation could purchase lights for the field, said Williams.

When asked how quickly the foundation should begin working with the school district on lights, Williams said as soon as possible and advised parents to work with their local school principal.

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