East Coweta HS Expansion: Push to maximize facilities at county's biggest school

alt

East Coweta High School student Ciarra Davison picks up her lunch in the school’s cafeteria, which will be part of a renovation and expansion project scheduled to begin at the school later this year.

By REBECCA LEFTWICH
rebecca@newnan.com
Preliminary plans for expansion, renovation and modification at East Coweta High School were presented to the Coweta County Board of Education at a called meeting last month.
East Coweta is the county's most-populated high school with more than 2,800 students on roll this year. A campus-wide renovation and modification project – expected to take three years – already is scheduled to begin later this year, and Superintendent Steve Barker has asked board members to consider expanding classroom space as part of the project.
"We're not looking at class size or teacher-pupil ratio," Barker said. "We're looking at student movement patterns and the number of students trying to exist during the school day in that space."
Insurance increases, austerity reductions and lack of state funding as well as unknown factors could further negatively impact the school system’s already strained budget, Barker said, and as the board plans for future growth it must carefully consider costs.
"As we talk about facilities and renovation, we can’t forget where we are in our operational budget," Barker said. "The budget situation has constantly got to be at the front of our thoughts.”
Enrollment at East Coweta is projected to reach nearly 3,000 – maxing out the school’s capacity – in 2014. Barker recommended the board approve the addition of 15 instructional units "through repurposing and expansion" as part of the renovation and modification project.
Concern over operational costs led to the board’s October decision to delay construction of a new middle school and turn the focus on utilizing existing facilities.
"We just don't have the luxury to add facilities out of pure desire to add them," Barker said. "We have to maximize our current facilites."
A new high school would cost an estimated $4.3 million to operate.
"Until we have to, we do not want to do that," Barker said. "We are using business and industry logic on this kind of project, keeping the fixed cost low, using and maximizing existing facilities and expanding our service delivery model."
However, more classroom space will require more staff, Barker said.
"We will absolutely have to spend some money on personnel," he said. "But even if we spent $1 million on personnel, it's still a $3.3 million savings over new school costs."
By adding classroom space and expanding off-campus learning opportunities such as dual enrollment, early graduation, offerings at the school system's Central Educational Center in Newnan, virtual and work-based learning, Barker said the school system can effectively alleviate overcrowding at ECHS.
Increasingly, students from Coweta's three base high schools – East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate – are taking some or all of their classes at CEC. Those students remain on high school rolls but are not physically present for at least part of the day, and managing their open seats can help alleviate overcrowding.
"Enrollment numbers are not taking anybody out for off-campus learning," Barker said. "Projections are for people on roll, but they're lower in terms of actual bodies on campus moving through. So the question then becomes how large do you want school to be?
"When you think of how we deliver learning for students, we're seeing more and more that's not happening within the walls of classroom," Barker said. "We need to make sure we're promoting this kind of opportunity and not just making good decisions about facilities."




More Local

Senoia wall could be up for years

Seven households in Senoia may be behind a wall for years to come. Monday night, representatives from Stalwart Films and Raleigh Studios re ... Read More


Work begins on Hood Road

Hood Road was being closed beginning Monday, July 21, for culvert replacement, according to Coweta County officials. Public notification sig ... Read More


Paper's Phone System Down

We are experiencing problems with our phone system at this time and are unable to make or receive calls. We hope to have this resolved by th ... Read More


Ga. national parks see 7 million visitors in 2013

ATLANTA (AP) — National Park Service officials say more than 7 million people visited Georgia parks in 2013 and had an economic benefi ... Read More


10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1.KERRY, BAN SHUTTLE TO MIDEAST AS P ... Read More

Newnan couple captures footage of McGraw incident

News media the world over is speculating about a recent incident involving musician Tim McGraw and a female fan at Aaron’s Amphitheatr ... Read More