Nine schools in the Coweta County School System underwent “major construction” over the summer, but that didn’t affect the start of the 2021-22 academic year, Superintendent Evan Horton said.
Much of the focus has been on tornado-damaged Newnan High School and Atkinson Elementary School.
Atkinson, which finished the year at the Newnan Campus of West Georgia Technical College after the March 26 storm, welcomed students and staff back to the fully restored Nimmons Street facility Aug. 5.
At Newnan High, students in grades 10-12 are attending classes in three permanent buildings at the center of campus – which suffered less severe tornado damage – and dozens of mobile classrooms.
Freshmen are attending class at the Central Educational Center, where they attend classes at “Cougar Village,” a combination of permanent and mobile classrooms.
The county’s newest school, Blake Bass Middle, opened as planned Aug. 5, and scheduled renovations and modifications to Arnall Middle School and Jefferson Parkway, Thomas Crossroads and Newnan Crossing elementary schools are mostly complete, Horton said during an update on facilities and construction at the Aug. 10 meeting of the Coweta County Board of Education.
At Northgate High School, renovation and repairs to the administration area, the main corridor, the kitchen and the cafeteria are mostly complete, and partial demolition has begun on the ninth grade building. At the meeting, the board approved an additional exit for the new parking lot at the front of the school.
Northgate also is getting an addition, which is scheduled for completion next summer. So far, the steel has gone up and work is underway on a segmented retaining wall so the bus loading area can be relocated to the back of the addition.
Despite the enormous amount of work, the start of school was a success according to Horton, who credited school system employees with the smooth opening.
“To be able to accomplish that and get school started back on time took a ton of coordination, and I could go on all night about all the great work our people have done,” he said. “I can’t begin to express my appreciation to them. Since last March, every one of them has banded together and committed to doing whatever it took to get our kids back in school at Atkinson and Newnan High, and this past week, we successfully opened nine schools that underwent major construction over the summer.
“I am just incredibly proud of what they have done,” Horton added.
With everybody in school, Horton said the school system’s focus will shift from emergency mode to the longer term, particularly how to approach the more significantly damaged buildings on the Newnan High campus. He said the school system has been notified by building inspectors about the code expectations and that he has contacted architects and engineers about the next steps.
“I’ve asked Southern A&E to formulate budget estimates and repair designs for the remaining buildings at Newnan High to see what we’re going to need to do,” Horton said. “My hope is that over the course of the next month, those plans or needs will come into focus.”
Horton said he hopes to present more information on the school system’s long-term repair plans for Newnan High at the board’s September meeting, which is set for Sept. 14.