By Candy Waylock; Appen Newspapers
Milton - Milton residents will soon see visible signs of the new high school rising at the intersection of Cogburn Road and Bethany Road.
Fulton School officials held the official groundbreaking for the school last Friday, signaling the project has moved from site preparation to facility construction.
The public was invited to the construction site for the groundbreaking ceremony to view architectural plans, as well as hear from officials about the school's planned features. The school, which has yet to be named, is on schedule to open in August 2012 with capacity for 1,900 students in 99 classrooms.
Traditionally, when new high schools are opened, a principal is named at least one year prior to the school's opening, allowing a transition period to get the school up and running, noted school officials. During this time, a school-naming committee will convene to propose names for the school, as well as mascot and color selections, and the PTA is usually established.
"The general idea has been to have someone selected and fully committed to the new school by spring," said Allison Toller, director of communication for Fulton Schools. "There have been times, [primarily] for high schools, when a current Fulton principal has been selected earlier, but even in those situations, the person has remained dedicated to their existing school until the spring."
Residents got a sneak peek at the most current plan for the new school during a community meeting in September held by Fulton School Board member Katie Reeves. There, construction officials showed the most current site and building plans, and answered questions which dealt primarily with anticipated traffic issues near the site. The new school will be located in an area dense with existing schools, with King's Ridge Christian School, Hopewell Middle, Cogburn Woods Elementary and St. Francis High School, in close proximity.
By law, the school system is prohibited from using school funds to make improvements on land it does not own. Therefore, it is up to the city and county to do the work necessary to improve the flow of traffic, school officials noted.
A traffic study has been completed by the Fulton School System, with the results turned over to city and county officials for review and follow-up.
Redistricting process begins in the spring.
The big question on many parents' minds is where their child will be attending high school in 2012 when the new school opens. Toller said the redistricting process will begin in the spring and be completed and approved by the school board in June 2011. This is a full year prior to the school opening and will allow parents to make appropriate plans, she noted.
Last year, the Fulton School Board approved a policy that would allow rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to remain at their current home school. Students who begin their freshman year at one high school will not have to leave, even if they were redistricted, unless they chose to do so. The policy does not apply to siblings, and transportation would not be provided for students outside the school's attendance zones.
The timeline for the spring redistricting procedure is:
First Community Forum – end of February 2011
Round Two – mid-March 2011
Round Three – mid-April 2011
"We anticipate submitting a redistricting plan to the Board for first read in May 2011, and final approval would occur in June 2011," said Toller.