‘Dirt turned’ for new school – Bond vote March 19

Ground was broken and dirt was turned Jan. 31 at the site of the new high school near the intersection of Highway 332 and Skelton Road.

Ground was broken and dirt was turned Jan. 31 at the site of the new high school near the intersection of Highway 332 and Skelton Road.

It was blue skies and sunshine when the Jackson County Board of Education hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new west-side high school on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at 4 p.m. We live-streamed the event — click here to see it in our archive.

The event was held on the new school’s property, which is bordered by Highway 332 and Skelton Road.

  • Click here for a photo album from the day. 
  • Click here for a “fly through” video of the building plan from the architects.
  • Click here for a copy of the site plan you can print or download.
BOND REFERENDUM MARCH 19
Logan Curtis, a first-grader at Gum Springs Elementary School worked a shovel at the groundbreaking Jan. 31.

Logan Curtis, a first-grader at Gum Springs Elementary School, took a turn working a shovel at the groundbreaking Jan. 31.

A $50 million bond that will finance the high school construction, work on the Empower Center, the renovation of East Jackson Middle School, and other projects across the district, will go to the voters who are served by the Jackson County School System on March 19.

  • Click here for a list of frequently asked questions and plans for financing.
  • Click here for information debt service and millage rate projections.
  • Click here for an analysis of debt service and the millage rate.
  • Click here for enrollment projections.
FULL-SERVICE FACILITY

The new building will provide more than 70 “instructional units,” including multi-purpose and science labs; art, chorus, band, drama, general and special needs classrooms; a two-story media center; a competition gym, and an open stadium-style instructional space, according to Ted Gilbert, assistant superintendent for operations.

The approximately 260,000-sq-ft building will feature an auditorium; a full fine arts wing; two two-story classroom wings; a kitchen and cafeteria; office space; and a multi-purpose athletics facility with two courts for basketball, cheerleading, volleyball, wrestling, and other activities.

A remdering of the site was displayed at the groundbreaking.

A drawing of the site was displayed at the groundbreaking.

Exterior facilities will include a competition stadium field, practice field, tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, concessions, and restrooms. The site also has a band practice field.

Typical vehicle and school bus lanes will come on to the property from Skelton Road with parking lots for students, staff, and visitors on the opposite side of the building, placing the facility closer to the road and the surrounding homes while the high school facilities’ parking lots will be on the interior of the site.

The overall site plan can also accommodate a middle and elementary school. The property was purchased by the BOE in 2013 and includes about 140 acres.

Crews began clearing the site in January, and school officials say they expect the facility to open in the 2020-21 school year.

JCCHS cheerleaders and band members were part of the celebration.

JCCHS cheerleaders and band members were part of the celebration.

RECONFIGURATIONS

Plans call for the building to accommodate ninth- through 12th-graders zoned for Jackson County Comprehensive High School on Winder Highway, in Jefferson, and for moving eighth-graders zoned for West Jackson Middle School to the facility, as well.

“We officially made eighth grade part of the student body in the East Jackson community last year after a trial-run that helped us refine that model over several years,” said Todd Nickelsen, JCSS’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

“It has worked well, providing greater opportunities for personalizing students’ pathways and offering greater access to the core courses and electives that meet their needs.”

The high school is part of the path that includes Gum Springs, West Jackson, and North Jackson elementary schools, as well as WJMS.

School officials plan to repurpose the existing JCCHS site for use as the Empower College & Career Center. The school system earned a $3 million grant from the Technical College System of Georgia in December for that effort.

EMPOWER PLANS MOVING FORWARD

A partnership between the Jackson County School System, Commerce City Schools and Foothills Charter High School, EC3 will engage students in real-world learning experiences, provide a variety of high-tech and academic opportunities, offer dual enrollment with the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College, and provide personalized pathways to higher education and career opportunities.

“The Empower program will be available to all our students and is one of the highest priorities identified by our community stakeholders,” Dr. Howard said.

For more information online about EC3, visit Empowerc3.com.

At the groundbreaking for the new high school on Jackson County's west side are, from left, Dr. Pete Jones, principal at Jackson County Comprehensive High School; Jackson County Commissioner Ralph Richardson; former BOE member Celinda Wilson; BOE Vice Chair Michael Cronic; BOE Chair Lynne Wheeler; former BOE chair Steve Bryant; Braselton community leader Martha Martin; Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kennerly; former BOE member Tim Brooks; BOE member Carol Anglin; and Dr. April Howard, superintendent of Jackson County Schools. — with Tim Brooks.

At the groundbreaking for the new high school on Jackson County’s west side are, from left, Dr. Pete Jones, principal at Jackson County Comprehensive High School; Jackson County Commissioner Ralph Richardson; former BOE member Celinda Wilson; BOE Vice Chair Michael Cronic; BOE Chair Lynne Wheeler; former BOE chair Steve Bryant; Braselton community leader Martha Martin; Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kennerly; former BOE member Tim Brooks; BOE member Carol Anglin; and Dr. April Howard, superintendent of Jackson County Schools.