Check out this email from Heards Ferry Elementary parent Lisa Bianchi regarding the controversy over whether to move Heards Ferry Elementary or rebuild it on site.  The Fulton County Board of Education recently ruled out the possibility of moving the school south of I-285 to Riverside Drive. One of the options is rebuilding the school at its current site, adjacent to Riverwood International Charter School.

Sandy Springs City Council has gotten involved in the public discussion about the site and yesterday City Councilman Chip Collins forwarded Bianchi’s email to the Sandy Springs Reporter.

Bianchi writes that parents need to consider the consequences of leaving the school where it is. She has given the Sandy Springs Reporter permission to reprint her email.

As a point of note, I live in the Riverside neighborhood and I have children at Heards Ferry and Ridgeview.

I want Heards Ferry to stay where it is, and I want Riverwood to have adequate facilities, and I want my children to have a good elementary and high school experience. Unfortunately, this is not possible. Keeping Heards Ferry where it is causes the current elementary kids to suffer for a couple of years and future high school kids to suffer for many years. I watched the school board meeting where this was discussed and learned a lot. I will share what I took away from their discussion.

The combined HFE and RICS properties equal about the amount of acreage the state says a high school should have. Both schools are overcrowded now and the enrollment is projected to increase so they both need to expand. If the land were flat and better shaped it might be easier to cram everything in the space but the property is oddly shaped and there is something like an 82 foot elevation change from Heards Ferry Road to the south end of the property by 285. This limits construction options.

CONSEQUENCES to Heards Ferry children of keeping both schools on the same property:

-one or more years of no gym or field

-virtually no HFE parking for a year or more

-at least a three story elementary school

-massive retaining walls

-longer construction periods

-no future development flexibility

Also, the board members seemed in agreement that the addition of classroom space at Riverwood would not take care of the building problems (picture a 42 year old building with 3 patchwork renovations) and a replacement high school will be needed when the money can be allocated. So today’s elementary and middle school children will likely experience major construction for most if not all of their high school experience if the schools stay on the same piece of land.

CONSEQUENCES to future Riverwood students:

-doing without onsite baseball fields, softball fields, and tennis courts for years

-something like 8,000 feet of massive retaining walls (we are talking some as high as 40 feet)

-parking decks

-city school look with multiple story buildings

-reduced field space after completion

-no future development flexibility

-today’s elementary and middle school children possibly coexisting with construction through their entire high school experience

Is the board under pressure to consider keeping HFE on the same property because they are only hearing from the people who are against moving it? Maybe they should hear from the many families who have considered all the facts and understand the consequences of not moving it.

– Lisa Bianchi

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of