New schools nearly finished

By Greg Gelpi

Slapping the paint on the interior, furnishing the rooms and completing the finishing touches, Clayton County is about to open three new schools.

Jonesboro Middle School will move to its new location behind Arnold Elementary School, and the school system will also open two newly named elementary schools.

Kemp Primary School, a school for kindergarten through second grades, is on the campus of Kemp Elementary School, and Thurgood Marshall Elementary School is located near Morrow High School.

Workers with MITT Contractors are wrapping up the $12 million Jonesboro Middle School campus on schedule this month along with the two elementary schools, said K.W. White Sr., the school system's coordinating supervisor of facilities auxiliary services. A new Jonesboro Middle was constructed to make way for the open campus and career academy which will take its place on the old campus.

Punch lists, checklists of what remains to be worked on, hang on the doors of the new schools, as workers install cabinets and other remaining items.

The two new elementary schools will add 92 classrooms to a school system that has 609 trailers being used as temporary classrooms. Of those, 517 are for growth and 92 are for construction.

The new Jonesboro Middle uses the same design as the school system's newest middle school, Roberts Middle.

"It doesn't exactly mirror Roberts," White said.

"When you stick to a prototype like this, it makes things so much easier in the long run," he said, pointing to the windows of one of Jonesboro Middle's two enclosed courtyards.

The school system is able to have standard size windows and buy building supplies in bulk to save money.

The same design is "flip-flopped" for the design of the new Sequoyah Middle School, set to open in the fall 2005 behind Harper Elementary School.

The design of the new schools features a mezzanine, a corridor that runs above the main hallways of the schools, White said. Rather than interrupting classes, school staff can work on air-conditioners and address other maintenance issues from the mezzanine.

"This is a concept we started a few years ago that we really enjoyed," White said.

Although the school system is opening three schools in the fall, the school system is making plans to build and open more.

A proposal that will be brought to the Clayton County Board of Education asks that an item be placed on a ballot in September to extend the current 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The tax extension would build three elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school.