Lakeside High School is ready to see major changes as the first stage of a $24 million renovation project begins.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the site, DeKalb County School System officials, faculty and students gathered Dec. 1 to celebrate the project’s long-awaited start.
“This process started about three to four years ago and it started with the idea that we were going to get a fine arts auditorium,” school Principal Joe Reed said.
“Obviously it’s gotten a little bigger than that. At this point as far as the process continuing the people chairing have gotten us from a fine arts auditorium to 25 additional classrooms...and all sorts of other things,” he added.
The audience applauded as Reed went on to thank those involved for “getting this thing way beyond what it was suppose to be.”
The renovations, paid for by the taxpayer-funded SPLOST III, will take place over the next two years, and when construction is finished in August 2012 the school will also have new locker rooms, technology classrooms, new technology, a patio for student lunches, an expanded kitchen and other enhancements to the building.
Lakeside’s remodel is part of the system’s larger Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) developed and approved by the Board of Education in 2007.
It was created to outline the system’s most pressing facility needs.
At the high school level the CIP encompasses renovations and additions to existing facilities and the construction of replacement facilities, according to school officials.
Those projects total more than $225 million and include the replacement of Tucker High School, major renovations to Cross Keys and Druid Hills high schools, technology/classroom/fine arts additions to Chamblee, Clarkston, Druid Hills, Dunwoody, Lakeside and Redan high schools, and additions to create large school models at Lithonia, Miller Grove, Dunwoody and Martin Luther King, Jr. high schools.
DeKalb Schools Interim CIP Operations Officer Barbara Colman said because all school property must be maintained it is unclear how redistricting and consolidation plans will impact current renovations.
“I’d give it a little bit of time. The redistricting and consolidation has to do with the number of seats and the capacity of the existing schools,” Colman said.
“The fact that a school might be overcrowded or underpopulated doesn’t really have as much to do with a need for the building; because whether or not it’s crowded, it still is going to need a good roof,” she added.
The total cost of all capital improvement projects being funded by SPLOST I, II and III money is $500 million. That will fund all facility construction projects in the system.
The money will be collected through July 2012. The system already has collected enough money to fund all budgeted projects.
Representing Lakeside, District 4 board member Paul Womack also spoke to the crowd and said politics and parents made it all possible.
“I want to thank my fellow board members for accepting a little tradeoff of about $10 to 11 million to make all this happen. I guess it’s politics,” Womack said.
“If all of our communities had the same parental involvement in our school system as we have here, we’d have the greatest school system in the state of Georgia,” he added.