Parents and community members listen as Riverwood Principal Robert Shaw, right, participates in the design forum.
Parents and community members listen as Riverwood Principal Robert Shaw, right, participates in the design forum.

Riverwood International Charter School on May 7 held another forum to engage parents, the community and school staff in design ideas for a new building.

The high school is on tap to receive a $33 million renovation and 26-classroom addition as a result of a one-penny education sales tax approved by voters in 2011. But the school has undergone extensive renovations and add-ons in its 43 years, so the Fulton School Board is considering using the money to build the first phase of a new school.

“I think what I want to see is the programs taught in the school to lead the design of the building,” said Gail Dean, Fulton County School Board representative for District 3, which includes Riverwood. She said she hopes the future design will help lead to innovate thinking.

Patrick Burke, deputy superintendent of operations for Fulton Schools, said that right now the idea behind the forums is “very conceptual,” adding, “We’re going to be thinking bigger picture.”

Later in the summer, ideas from the community will be presented to the school board, and architects will compete for a design contract in the fall. The forum was a follow-up to an April 26 symposium of school and business leaders that was designed to get the audience thinking about how a building design should relate to learning.

Dr. Kelly Page, an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago, participated in the April 26 symposium and led the May 7 forum. She asked forum participants to think about what Riverwood is to them as well as how to define community.

She said that feedback she has received from the community includes concepts such as “everyone is a learner,” “collaboration and empathy,” “fun is good,” “natural light,” and “organic safe environment.”

In a break-out session where participants teamed up in small groups to float ideas, Riverwood parent Travis Bridges said he would like to see students learn to contribute to the economy. “I’m a big believer in entrepreneurship,” he said.

Parent Marth Greenway said she would like to see an integration of all the academic disciplines. “They shouldn’t be so compartmentalized,” she said, adding that as someone who lives nearby the school she hopes that traffic is taken into consideration in the new design.

The next forum will be held Wednesday, May 14, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the school, located at 5900 Raider Drive in Sandy Springs.