Atlanta’s Fulton County Green-lights Several School Projects

ATLANTA — If one were to examine the docket of the recent Fulton County Board of Education meeting, it would seem the district is in the real estate business instead of the education business. The district, which serves the area of Fulton County outside Atlanta, green-lit a raft of pending capital projects at the Jan. 22 meeting, with approvals going to several area school projects.

Among those now basking in the verdant glow of their respective green-lights is a new STEM-based campus with a prospective launch date of August 2021. The board approved a $2.36 million agreement with Cooper Carry Inc., a national architectural that has a speciality in K-12 educational structures, for design and construction management services.

To that end, another complementary STEM campus was also under discussion and could possibly open in 2020 if the board’s apparent zeal for approving projects can be sustained. The science-, technology-, engineering- and mathematics-centric educational curricula is a boon to students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare, engineering and computer science, observed a report filed by local news outlet the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

According to the district’s Capital Plan 2022 posted on their website, the STEM campuses will “prepare students for college and career readiness through academics, career-related courses, internships and industry certifications.” Among other objectives, the district hopes the initiative will help “build strategic partnerships between Fulton County Schools and the business community that will provide industry experiences and internship opportunities for students.”

The board also gave the nod to have North Fulton’s Crabapple Middle School replaced with the design overseen by the century-old firm of Stevens and Wilkinson, which boasts offices in Atlanta and South Carolina. The firm will design the new junior high with a base fee approved at $1.6 million. Likewise, approval was granted for a $2.32 million architectural service agreement with Chapman Griffin Lanier Sussenbach Architects Inc. (CGLS), a mid-sized firm that specializes in academic, religious and hospitality projects, to replace Riverwood High School. The school’s overhaul has been staggered into discrete phases so that it may remain open (the first phase continues through this academic year). CGLS will design phases two through seven.

The projected budget for the districts 2022 capital plan is $976 million. This budget was created using revenue projections for a special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST), a financing method for funding capital projects in the state of George via an optional 1 percent sales tax that counties may levy to build schools and other public structures.

The Fulton County School System has approximately 11,500 full-time employees, including 7,500 teachers and other certified personnel, who work in 99 schools and 15 administrative and support buildings. Altogether, 94,000 students attend classes in 58 elementary schools, 19 middle schools and 15 high schools as well as seven charter schools.