Tuesday, December 01, 2009

BOE stands firm on Bethany H.S. plans

by Candy Waylock / Appen Newspapers

November 30, 2009 Milton — If members of the community were hoping for drastic changes in the plans for the Bethany Bend high school site, they likely left school board member Katie Reeve's monthly meeting a bit disappointed.

Reeves emphasized she was sympathetic to the wishes of her community, but often her hands are tied.

"I'm just one member of a seven-member board, and I cannot do anything without at least three other board members agreeing with me," Reeves told the assembled audience at her monthly meeting last week.

Getting board approval is particularly challenging when the changes conflict with educational specifications — known in the parlance of school planning as "ed specs" — which ensure every school in the Fulton's nearly 100 buildings are equitable.

"Every change in ed specs requires support from the entire board – or at least four board members – and is not something we take lightly," said Reeves. "I think Fulton Schools has done a very good job of meeting the needs of our students with our existing facilities."

The Bethany Bend high school site is set for ground breaking this spring at the corner of Bethany Bend and Cogburn Road in Milton, with an opening in August 2012. The $70 million school can house up to 1,900 students and will relieve overcrowded conditions primarily at Milton High School, which is projected to have nearly 2,800 students by 2011.

Other high schools in the area may also see their attendance lines shift with the opening of the as-yet-unnamed Bethany Bend; however, the redistricting process will not start until next year.

The school will sit on 65 acres, with 25 acres of the site to remain undisturbed, mainly because of topographical or environmental issues. These dimensions are in line with the other high schools in the area, noted Frank Destadio of Parsons Engineering, which directs construction for Fulton Schools.

The main concerns from the community were voiced by Lynna Lee of Milton, who made a site visit with several other parents to the newly opened Johns Creek High School. The Bethany Bend school will be the same prototype as Johns Creek (as well as Westlake High in South Fulton), allowing the community a glimpse of what the new high school will closely resemble.

While impressed with Johns Creek High School, Lee noted the group was concerned with some issues, particularly with what they believed was the small size of the cafeteria. Destadio addressed that concern at Reeve's meeting, noting the cafeteria at Johns Creek, and ultimately Bethany Bend, exceeds state requirements for to space seat all the students in three sessions.

He added the benefit in prototype construction is the ability to correct any problems before building the next model.

"We've been talking with [Johns Creek Principal] Buck Greene, and there are some issues that will be corrected for the Bethany Bend high school," noted Destadio.

He added none of the changes are structural, but more aesthetic.

Other concerns from the community centered on items Fulton Schools has no power to fix. These mainly include widening the roads and other off-site traffic enhancements, which must be addressed by the city of Milton.

Patrick Burke, director of operations for Fulton Schools, noted there have been two meetings with Milton officials — with more planned — to see how the two entities could work on solving some of the issues.

A request for an entrance to the school via Ga. 9 is not an option, said Reeves. To reach Ga. 9 from school property would take the purchase of 9 acres of commercial development that stands between the school site and the highway. With two entrances already in the plan, there is no board support of that additional cost, Reeves said.

Ditto to the suggestion the board purchase land across the street to place some facilities.

Also off the table is a three-story, stacked building limiting the school's footprint, which would require a complete overhaul of the architectural plan. With a tight schedule, noted Reeves, any significant change jeopardizes the completion date and risks funding drying up.

The cost of the school is funded with proceeds from SPLOST 3 (special purpose local option sales tax), which will sunset in 2012 without a renewal.

The last piece of the Bethany Bend high school will be to determine what the front facade of the building will look like – it's "signature statement."

Milton High, which removed seven milton families out of their homes due to the BOE's lack of planning has the white columns, Alpharetta High has the retro look and Johns Creek High has the clock tower.

While the architects presented a conceptual drawing of a "lodge style" facade at last month's information meeting, no decision will be made until more community input is gathered.

Note: added to this article.


Anonymous said...

They have these meetings to placate peoples complaints and concerns but never react or change their plans, rarely ever. Someone give me a list of instances where the parents/taxpayers got what they wanted when a school was built. Woopie doo, they got a four board fence in front of BHFES, and extra trees, wow, the BOE really went out of their way on that isn't it?, and the new Bethany HS is a copy cat of Johns Creek but looks like a prison. If Katie really wanted to represent this area she would take the rest of the board to task, and insist that changes be made, but no. She only cares about her hide, and only gives lip service to the parents who pay for the schools. When is Katie's term up, she needs to go, yesterday. Where is City Council on this, where is the pressure from them to make this school look and feel more like Milton? The got that Taj Mah on Mayfield, why can't they put pressure on the BOE to get what the people want in Milton? Oh, that's right, they were Alpharetta back then, right? so Alpharetta got what they wanted in MHS, I guess Milton City Council is a red headed step child at best when it comes to influencing the BOE.

Anonymous said...

Tim, give it a rest! Go have some kids then you won't be against the schools.

Tim Enloe said...

Sorry to disappoint, but I did not make the initial comment. If I did, you would know.

I do agree with that person, however. I am not against schools or students; I am against the constant abuse of public trust, lack of foresight, and waste of money.

The BOE answers to no one and that is a big problem.

Tim Enloe
770 653 0552

Anonymous said...

So if you are against the BOE wasting tax payer money, then the second poster thinks you hate kids, interesting? You must be Katie Reeves with that dumb A-- comment. I have kids and agree with the first post, the BOE does waste our money and then they spend it like they want. Spend, spend, spend!! Then ask to raise taxes later because they have no money, here comes another SPLOST, they aren't getting my vote for that, not until they stop wasting the money they take from us now.

Anonymous said...

Right 6:33 am.

They scramble each month to pay the teachers. Teaching supplies are lacking in some elementary schools. Thanks to all the local PTA's that try to fill the $$ gap.
But that's this county administration and the BOE. Bring on Milton County!

Wonder how much the Risk Manager is paid. Yes, that's a position at central office.

Anonymous said...

Go see CBS News Altanta news and search for FC BOE contract with Office Depot this past June 2009, watch the videos. The BOE gave Office Depot a contract that was 1.5 Million higher then what Staples bid for the same school supplies. How many school supplies and teachers pay could we have saved with that money?

Anonymous said...

Tina should run for the BOE. I didn't support her for council but I would take her over Katie Reeves any day. So many people in both Alpharetta and Milton have had bad experiences with Katie Reeves - it might be Tina's only hope for a second chance in politics.

Anonymous said...

Alpharetta did not support the move to the present Milton site. Push was from the principal,(old Milton was not classy enough for him) and K.R. The system has not recovered from that cost overrun.

Anonymous said...

As a holiday gift for your child's teacher, I suggest a pack of copy paper. They will truly appreciate it. It's something the can put to good use.

Coal for the BOE stockings.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the voters who elected KR should get the coal in their stockings.