The new school year is bringing big changes for three Atlanta public schools in the Buckhead community.
The school year begins Aug. 7.
North Atlanta High will move to its new campus at Northside Parkway, more than 3.6 miles north of its old campus on Northside Drive. Sutton Middle School will move to the old North Atlanta High campus, located 3.6 miles south of Sutton’s current campus on Powers Ferry Road at Chastain Park. E. Rivers Elementary will move to the Sutton Campus, located 4.3 miles north of its present location at Peachtree Battle Avenue.
E. Rivers’ move is only temporary. Atlanta Public Schools will rebuild the elementary school. District 4 Atlanta Board of Education Member Nancy Meister said that school is tentatively scheduled to open in January 2015.
Meister also said Atlanta Public Schools will likely revisit the issue of Sutton becoming a dedicated sixth grade academy that would feed into the main middle school campus. That was the plan adopted by the Board of Education during its most recent redistricting process.
“I’m sure there will be another round of talks about what it should be,” Meister said. “We voted on it, but like anything, I think there will be concern when the time gets there. I imagine the right thing to do will be to revisit that. That’s just my guess.”
Meister and School Board Chairman Reuben McDaniel said APS has communicated the changes to parents using phone calls, emails and notes in their children’s backpacks.
“I’d be shocked if there’s any parent that doesn’t know this is happening,” Meister said.
McDaniel said the system “has been working like crazy all summer” to make sure everything is in place.
“One of the things we’re concerned about is making sure the buses get the kids from E. Rivers to Sutton,” McDaniel said. “Rivers students will go from home to Sutton. … That’ll be the biggest logistical challenge I think. It will take us a few days, if not weeks, to get that right.”
Students at all three schools will have more room to breathe. Meister said the portable classrooms that were handling excess capacity at Sutton are now gone. North Atlanta’s new campus will be able to hold 2,400 students. Its current projected enrollment is 1,650.
Meister this week said the additional capacity is partly responsible for the new high school’s $150 million price tag, which WSB-TV reported made the school the most expensive in state history.
Parents who have visited the campus said they are impressed with the new facility.
“I did a tour on Saturday at the new North Atlanta and it looks great,” said Reide Onley, co-president of North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools. “It’s amazing what they’ve done.”
Leigh Darby, parent of two North Atlanta High students, said parents are “very excited” about their new school.
“I have been up there a couple of times and it’s unbelievable,” Darby said. “It’s an amazing piece of property and it’s an amazing campus.”