According to the 2011-12 Cherokee County Inventory of School Housing, Ball Ground Elementary School has reached 152 percent overcrowding, without considering portable classrooms.
The meeting began what is expected to be an extensive process that encourages parents to give their input to shape the future Ball Ground Elementary. All questions and concerns may be emailed to Mitch Hamilton, the planning and forecasting coordinator for Cherokee County School District.
Hamilton plans to compile all concerns and questions to present to the Board of Education two weeks before the public input meeting with the school board. The public input meeting will be Nov. 10. The board will vote on all 2012-13 school boundary determinations on Dec. 1.
The new Ball Ground Elementary campus will pull students from Ball Ground and Free Home elementary schools and potentially from Chapman Intermediate School and E.T. Booth Middle School. This depends on whether the new Ball Ground campus will open next year as a K-5 school or K-6.
“We could possibly phase the school into a K-8 to help with overcrowding at Creekland,” Hamilton said.
The proposed new school plan features three parking lots, two physical education fields and a basketball court. The cafeteria can hold up to 1,200 students at a time and features serving lines with multiple access points.
“Ideally, we’d like to open with 800 students. Ball Ground Elementary School is almost half of that,” said Assistant Superintendent Russ Sims.
Sims explained that though discussions had only begun regarding how to fill the school, there have been many options proposed. Some options Sims mentioned were adding one or more of the proposed Cherokee academies to the campus, a vocational school, or expanding through eighth grade.
Some parent concern came from the fact that if the school were to phase into a K-8, that it would be isolated as the only school in the area.
“The biggest problem with boundaries is the distance,” said Sims, noting that filling the extra space with students from surrounding elementary schools would prove difficult, as none are close by.
There will also be another board focus group meeting for the proposed elementary school on Hunt Road at Oak Grove Elementary School on Sept. 15, and a follow-up meeting, if necessary, Oct. 3. Boston Elementary School had a boundary focus group meeting Monday, and is expected to have a follow-up meeting, if necessary, on Sept 26. At the Tuesday meeting at Ball Ground Elementary School, it was determined no follow-up meeting was necessary.
Sims encourages parents to voice their feedback via email for the best results for the county as a whole.
“We want to make the best decision that best suits the community, and we’d love to hear from you,” said Sims.