Amy Sue Mann, director of preconstruction for DeKalb County schools, left, and John Selph, superintendent with Turner Construction Company, show the site plan.

The makeover planned for Chamblee High School will add five acres to the school’s property, raise the school building to four stories and add state-of-the-art laboratories, according to DeKalb County schools officials.

And, although the school is planned for 1,600 students, the renovation work will increase the school’s kitchen capacity so it could feed up to 2,000 students if future expansion is needed, Amy Sue Mann, director of preconstruction for the county school system, told members of the Chamblee Business Alliance on June 16. The school now houses 1,500 students, Principal Rochelle Lowery told the business group.

“The [construction] project is in progress,” Lowery said. “Although you may not see a lot of movement going on on the outside, there are a lot things going on.”

School officials plan to hold a public meeting in July to discuss the effects of construction and other issues, Mann said. No date or site had been announced for the meeting as of June 27, school district representatives said.

Mann said the construction work at Chamblee High was budgeted to cost about $52 million, but with the cost of the added land, the building’s furnishings, computers, labs and other expenses, the overall project would cost about $69 million.

A fact sheet issued by the school district about $11 million of the money is coming from a Special Local Option Sales Tax and another $58 million from construction bonds. The fact sheet says construction is to be completed on the building by May 2013 and the school is to open in August 2013. Site improvements are to be completed by December 2013.

Students will remain at the school site while the new, 275,000-square-foot building is being built. The new building will completely replace the existing school building, located at 3688 Chamblee Dunwoody Road.

Lowery said that during construction, students will take classes in temporary classrooms located on the property. “We will all have the experience of going in and out of trailers,” she said.

As planned, the project adds about 5 ½ acres to the 14 acres the district now owns for the school. The site, including the stadium, will cover about 19 acres, Mann said.

The district says the construction project will provide new classrooms, labs, administrative offices, cafeteria, kitchen, media center, art suites, music suites and an auditorium. It also will provide tennis courts, a baseball field, a softball field, a practice field and a swimming facility, the district said. Plans for the baseball field do not include lights, she said.

Mann said the way students get in to and leave the building will change during construction. Traffic on Pierce Drive will be rerouted, she said. Police will be on hand to direct traffic during some periods of construction, she said.

Also, the project will provide “more parking than we’ve ever had in there before.” The district said the project will replace the school’s current 250 parking spaces with a total of 620 spaces.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.