NEW HIGH SCHOOL
Square footage: 130,000
Design: Brick, two-story
Location: State Highway 114, next to existing school
Architect: Rome, Ga., office of James W. Buckley & Associates Inc.
Source: Chattooga County Schools officials
To save electricity — and money — Chattooga County, Ga., Schools Superintendent Jimmy Lenderman has a habit of switching off lights in empty classrooms during his frequent school visits.
"He's very energy conscious," school district Director of Operations and Maintenance John Worsham said of his boss.
Worrying about left-on lights won't be necessary once the new Chattooga High School opens. Its classrooms will have motion-sensing light switches to shut the juice off automatically when no one's in class.
That's one of the details that's been decided about the brick, two-story, 130,000-square-foot building that's due to get under construction in the spring and should be open no later than Christmas 2014.
"We're real excited about it," Chattooga High School Principal Jeff Martin said. "You're looking at a building that's 40 years old, almost 50. We've poured money into it. Our kids deserve a new building. It's time."
Chattooga County school officials and residents soon should get a look at architectural drawings showing what the school will look like.
"I'm expecting within the next month to have a good drawing," Worsham said.
Chattooga County voters gave the green light to school construction in November of last year when they approved an education special purpose local options sales tax of 1 cent per $1 that's expected to generate $12 million toward school construction. Another $8 million in state funds will help pay for the project.
The new school will be built next to the existing high school on state Highway 114. The current building is showing its age, Worsham said.
"All the electrical panels have got a lot of age on them. They're starting to fail," he said, noting that replacement electrical parts are hard to find.
"A lot of the plumbing underneath the school is starting to fail," Worsham said.
After the new school's finished, the old building will be demolished -- though not all of it. The new high school will be built around the existing gymnasium, which will be repurposed as a multipurpose room and used for gym class.
"It was built later ... in the mid- to late-70s," Worsham said of the current gym. While it's not air-conditioned, the new gym will be, he said.
The school district hired the Rome, Ga., office of James W. Buckley & Associates Inc. as the architect for the new high school.
"They're big into school architecture," Worsham said of the firm, which bills itself as the state's largest architectural firm outside of Atlanta with offices in Albany, Rome, Savannah, Brunswick and Swainsboro.
Two-story schools are the trend now, Worsham said.
"You get less roof, which is a major repair, when that comes around," Worsham said. "You get better climate control."
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.