Advocates of a new North Springs Charter High School building appear poised to get their wish in a budget proposal set to be vetted by the Fulton County Board of Education June 12.
The meeting agenda indicates that the budget for controversial renovations and additions at the Sandy Springs high school will be scaled back to “focus only on high-priority and safety requirements.” And the rest of the project’s budget will be held “in anticipation that the next capital program will include a small, comprehensive replacement North Springs High School.”
Fulton County Schools spokesperson Susan Hale did not confirm or deny that means a new North Springs High is proposed. “I don’t yet have full information but there is expected to be more info shared by the superintendent [Jeff Rose] at tomorrow’s meeting,” Hale said.
She also did not have comment on what “small” and “comprehensive” might mean.
North Springs High, at 7447 Roswell Road, is the county’s oldest high school, built in 1963 and added to at later dates. Parents groups have long sought a new school facility from the county, but the advocacy gained fresh momentum last year with the formation of a group called Citizens for a New North Springs.
Fulton County Schools has an extensive renovation and addition plan on the table for North Springs, but CFANNS says that isn’t enough. CFANNS held community meetings to highlight what it said is outdated and unsafe conditions at North Springs, especially in comparison to a massive replacement underway at Sandy Springs’ other public high school, Riverwood International Charter School.
Since then, CFANNS co-founder Jody Reichel was elected to the Sandy Springs City Council, which joined Mayor Rusty Paul in officially supporting the replacement school cause. The city sees a new North Springs High as an important part of its quest to redevelop the north end of Sandy Springs, which is now the subject of an official task force. The school board issued a letter rejecting the call for a new school, though in technical language that supporters saw as leaving some doors open.
In April, a report on the recommended renovation plan came in with a price tag of $30 million – far over the $19 million budget.
CFANNS member Betty Klein said the school board’s agenda item appears to be dealing with that issue by proposing limited renovation and a new school after all. She said that school board members recently told CFANNS to attend the June 12 meeting because it would include “an announcement as to what their determination was for North Springs.”
Klein said that if a new school is indeed on the table, CFANNS members might still take issue with the long timeline and the possible meaning of a “small” replacement.
The same agenda item for the June 12 meeting includes a roughly $7.3 million construction cost increase for the Riverwood school project.
North Springs High is on the school board’s agenda in a non-voting “work session” item, as part of discussions of changes to the cash flow of capital projects. The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the North Learning Center, 450 Northridge Parkway in Sandy Springs. It can be viewed live online at fultonschools.org.