Courtesy: Appen Newspapers / http://www.northfulton.com/.
Freemanville site set to open in 2011.
by Candy Waylock
October 01, 2007Despite continued resident objections and rumors of falling attendance, school officials are still on track to build a new high school on Freemanville Road."No, we're not changing sites, and yes, we are planning to put a school there," said Katie Reeves, the school board member whose district includes Milton.
During Reeve's monthly community meeting in September, she was prepared for the objections of some residents who feel there is a better site somewhere else in Milton to put a new high school.Joining Reeves in her meeting was the school system's chief planner, Patrick Burke, along with a representative from Parsons, which oversees the Fulton Schools construction plan.Burke said while the enrollment forecast for Fulton County Schools was down this current year, the projections for North Fulton were nearly 100 percent accurate.
In fact, 50 more high school students showed up than expected."Based on our projections, Milton High School will have just under 3,000 students by the 2011-2012 school year without relief from a new school," noted Burke.Alpharetta High School is projected to have 2,600 students by 2011-2012. Both schools were built for a capacity of 1,950 students.In determining where the new high school should be located, Burke enters all available data on projected growth, then determines the "target area" in which to look for available land.In the target area for a new high school in Milton, school officials found five available tracts of land, then used a matrix to determine the best fit for a new school.
Reeves explained the land agents consider the number of acres – with 70 acres being the optimum for high schools – the number of owners, the willingness of owners to sell, the topography of the land and the price per acre.Frank Destadio of Parsons noted the system rejected the other four parcels for various reasons, including environmental issues, unwilling sellers and price. Three of those properties were along Hopewell Road, with the fourth on Birmingham Highway.Reeves acknowledged there is no such thing as a perfect piece of property, noting even the current Milton High School has a stream running through the property, which limited construction."If there was a perfect piece of property, it's already been snapped up," she said. "This is the best option; it was approved on a 7-0 vote by the school board and we are moving ahead."
But Lisa Cauley, who lives across from the site on Freemanville Road, is not giving up her fight to stop the school system from becoming her neighbor. Though she said she is through publicly fighting the school system, perhaps hinting at legal action, she is determined to stop the school's construction."This site is wrong on so many levels, especially for the environmental aspects, and being located less than two miles from [Milton High School]," said Cauley. "It seems they just bought the cheapest piece of land they could get without considering the [suitability]."Reeves said every school built in Fulton County has been met with objections, primarily from those residents who live closest to the school.
"Believe me, if we had selected another site we would be having this same discussion with neighbors near that site," said Reeves. "But I would rather fight this battle now than answer to my community in five years when our schools are overcrowded and parents ask why plans were not made."Reeves added the previous owner of the property is paying to make any needed mitigations to the stream on the property.The new high school is scheduled to open in August 2011 and is being funded with proceeds from the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The 117-acre site has room for a future middle school if a need develops, but that is not planned before 2012.