New high school groundbreaking Jan. 31

Overhead of Skelton Road site for a new high school on the west side of Jackson County.

The Jackson County Board of Education will host a groundbreaking ceremony for its new west-side high school on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at 4 p.m.

The event will be held on the new school’s property, which is bordered by Highway 332 and Skelton Road, with the entrance for the groundbreaking on the Highway 332 side of the property.

“We hope our students and their families, business and industry leaders, and other stakeholders will join us for this celebration,” said Dr. April Howard, Jackson County School superintendent. “It marks the beginning of a new school hub for our community as we work to address the rapid growth on the west side.”

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

Crews started working to clear the new high school site in January 2019.

Overhead of Skelton Road site for a new high school on the west side of Jackson County.

The property was purchased by the BOE in 2013 and includes about 140 acres. Click here for a copy of the site plan you can print or download.

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.

Click here for a “fly through” video from the architects.

“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.

Crews started working to clear the new high school site in January 2019.“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.

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 about the projects proposed and the school system’s plans for financing.

Architect's rendering of the new high school for Jackson County's west side community.

Architect’s rendering of the new high school for Jackson County’s west side community.

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.

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.

Crews started working to clear the new high school site in January 2019.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 and the parking lots on the interior of the site.

The overall site plan can also accommodate a middle and elementary school.


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.

Crews started working to clear the new high school site in January 2019.“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