The Fulton County school system plans to replace North Springs High School with a new facility.
At a June 8 meeting, the school board approved a capital plan for 2027, which includes the new high school. Details will be worked out in the coming months, with plans for multiple forms of community engagement over a long period of time, said Brian Noyes, school district spokesperson.
The existing school at 7447 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs was built in 1963, making it one of the oldest schools in the school district.
Parents had been asking for a new high school in 2017 when the school district had just begun its 2022 capital plan, which included a major addition for the school. Another $14 million in renovations was included in its 2010 special local option sales tax plan. But those parents said many of the upgrades were maintenance work for an inadequate facility.
Now, the 2027 capital plan includes a budget of $258 million for the replacement and reconfiguration of existing schools where the costs of renovations are too steep to be viable.
“We are recommending a replacement or reconfiguration of the following schools and discontinuing the usage of their current school site for educational purposes,” said Noel Maloof, chief operations officer for Fulton County Schools.
North Springs High and S.L. Lewis Elementary, along with Holcomb Bridge, Haynes Bridge and Camp Creek middle schools, were on that list, he said. Though the facilities have been named, the scope of work won’t be definitive until the final budget is approved.
“Several options could include rebuilding replacement schools on the current or alternate sites, renovating the schools, reconfiguring one or multiple existing spaces to accommodate the students, consolidating schools, or upgrading or modifying existing structures. The one exception to this is North Springs High School which is slated to be rebuilt,” Maloof said.
The total approved for the 2027 capital plan was $1.2 billion over five years. The facility master plan accounts for 53% of those funds, or $648.3 million.
Eighteen schools and two non-instructional facilities need $188 million in “deep dive” renovations, such as upgrading HVAC systems, roofs, fire alarms, electrical, plumbing, flooring and windows.
The capital plan also includes funds to renovate elementary school media centers, install artificial turf at high school practice fields, and renovate audio-visual systems at high school theaters.
“As you are aware, for the past five capital plans, we have utilized the special purpose local option sales tax, SPLOST, as the major funding source. We are proposing that we continue using SPLOST,” said Marvin Dereef Jr., chief financial officer for the school system.
Estimates by Georgia State University project the school district would receive $1.2 billion in sales tax revenue over five years if voters approve the SPLOST extension on the ballot Nov. 2.
“If we did not use SPLOST revenue to fund our capital plan, we would need to raise the tax millage rate by at least 5.2 mills to still execute the proposed plan. This would increase our millage rate from 17.796 to 22.996. Once again, we recommend not raising the millage rate,” Dereef said.
School board President Julia Bernath said the capital plan is a pay-as-you-go process that they hope to continue. “I want to also remind the voters that what we’re going to be asking for is not a new tax, it would be the continuation of the existing tax,” she said.
Linda McCain said the school district is no longer in a high growth phase like it was five years ago. It has gone from barely keeping up with growth to devoting a much larger amount of funds toward technology.
Technology makes up 25% of the capital plan.
“If we’re funding through SPLOST, then everyone that visits Fulton County and floats through and spends a little money here or there is helping us fund it. And it’s not a burden on the taxpayer that owns property in Fulton,” school board member Gail Dean said.
On June 17, the school board is scheduled to vote on putting its SPLOST referendum on the ballot in November.