Renovations ongoing in school system
by Celia Shortt
The Coweta County School System started its 2014-2015 school year well even with some major renovations at several of its schools.
East Coweta High School is in the middle of a three-year expansion project, which began last summer. Last summer and during the school year, the ECHS field house was renovated, and more than 200 parking spaces and 23 classes were added. Also, renovations are under way on the east side of the campus.
Another major part of the renovations is a new, larger cafeteria, along with a bigger kitchen, both of which were completed in time for the start of the school year.
“We are off to a great start and we have had a very smooth opening,” said East Coweta High Principal Evan Horton at the start of the school year.
In a release from CCSS, Horton said that East Coweta’s enrollment has started at approximately 2,900 students, and student growth at the 25-year-old campus is part of what has driven the ongoing renovations and new classroom additions.
The first day of school, Horton and his staff developed student traffic patterns at the school.
“Our staff and students have been amazing” as the campus has added structures and managed construction, he said.
The renovations done last year included a new athletic facility, paving and sewer work, and the start of renovations of the school’s instructional halls. Construction on a new classroom building in the center of East Coweta’s campus also began. This summer, East Coweta’s media center, administrative office, and the original gym area were renovated along with the cafeteria and kitchen.
Currently, Brantley Hall West of ECHS is being renovated and is expected to be completed in October. Once the entire project is completed in summer 2015, almost 300,000 square feet of the existing East Coweta campus will have been renovated.
Another major renovation project is a new facility being built at Evans Middle School. This summer the central 1972 building was torn down, and work began on a new central classroom building. Evans Principal Melissa Wimbish worked with teachers, staff, parents and students at the end of last school year to prepare them for the changes. They created new school traffic patterns for car riders and buses at the campus and took steps to acquaint students to new, temporary classrooms that will serve classes until the new building is completed.
“We have had a great jumpstart to the school year,” said Wimbish.
She reported 745 students enrolled on Evan’s first day.
“Even though construction is under way at EMS, the students and staff move about the day without even thinking about the construction crew in the middle of the campus,” she added. “The day moves so quickly, I don’t think anyone has had time to be concerned with it. Students, staff and parents have been patient and very cooperative throughout our opening this year.”
According to the school system, preliminary site work began at Evans over the 2013 Christmas break, with installation of underground utilities and site preparation.
The older building on Evans’ campus, which houses the school’s cafeteria, will remain to serve students through the 2014-15 school year, while construction of the new classroom building continues.
A new cafeteria will be in the new building, as well as a new media center and more classroom space. Renovations to the new science lab in Bell Hall will also be completed next summer.
Lee Middle School is another campus that underwent renovations that were completed in time for the start of the 2014-2015 school year.
Its athletic field was renovated.
“We have had a wonderful start to our new school year,’ said Lee Middle School Principal Cindy Bennett in a CCSS press release. “Our students are eager to learn, and are falling back into the routine almost immediately.”
Bennett said she and the school are excited about this year’s middle school football season.
“We have been renovating our football field for the past year,” she said. It’s ready, and all of our LMS football games will be played at our school this season.”
Other CCSS renovations include:
• Lighting Upgrades – Canongate, Maggie Brown, Newnan Crossing, Jefferson Parkway, Winston Dowdell Academy, Northgate, Arnall, Thomas Crossroads, the 237 Jackson Street Office and the Werz Drive Operations Center are all receiving lighting upgrades. Work began during the summer break and will be completed during nights and weekends by December 2014.
• HVAC Upgrades – The multi-purpose buildings at Newnan Crossing, Jefferson Parkway, Canongate, Jefferson Parkway’s cafeteria, and locker rooms at Northgate High School all received upgraded HVAC systems.
• Paving Projects – Paving projects at Smokey Road, Lee, Willis Road, and Moreland were finished prior to the school year opening. More paving will be completed at ECHS this month, as a contract amendment for additional work was approved by the school board.