The new Clark Creek Elementary School on Hunt Road in Acworth was unveiled with a tour of the facility Monday.
The project, designed by JKH Architects in Dalton, was funded through the school system’s special purpose local option sales tax collections. It was delayed a year from opening as a result of inclement weather conditions that delayed the site work for six months.
The almost 135,000-square-foot structure will house kindergarten through sixth grade and have around 900 students on the first day of classes Aug. 1. The building’s capacity is 1,250 students and sits on 43 acres.
Phil Parrott, school district construction supervisor, as well as Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo, guided school system officials and Board of Education members through the school.
The new school has been in the works since August 2009 and construction cost $15.4 million. The prototypical design has been used in the district twice already at Knox Elementary School and Indian Knoll Elementary School.
Petruzielo said the district continues to use the design because district officials are “generally happy” with it and it helps to save money. He said Indian Knoll cost the district $17.6 million, so Clark Creek saw a savings of approximately $2.1 million.
“Every time we’re done with a prototype, we work to improve on it,” Petruzielo said.
Russ Sims, assistant superintendent of facilities and construction management, said the savings come from familiarity with the design and being able to “corner the architects easier” because they have worked with them in the past.
Clark Creek Elementary School, the site of one of the district’s science, technology, engineering and math academies, was built to ease crowding at nearby Oak Grove Elementary School and Boston Elementary School.
The school’s new principal, Dr. Jennifer Scrivner, met with a group of students, parents and community members earlier this year to decide the school’s name, mascot and colors, which pulled from the two local schools. Scrivner said the students were largely responsible for the selection of the colors red and gold, as one color was selected from each of the feeder elementary schools: red from Oak Grove and gold from Boston.
“RedHawks,” the chosen mascot, is in keeping with the “birds of prey” theme within the Etowah Innovation Zone.
The school’s assistant principal will be Deborah Kelly, assistant principal at Holly Springs Elementary School.
The school has 77 classrooms, all equipped with eight computers each, interactive white boards and projectors that combine a chalkboard, television and computer into one system.
Also, security cameras are located at the front and back entrances and can be monitored in the front office as well as the school’s data room.
“Our philosophy is, ‘Let’s put good stuff in and get the life expectancy we need,’” Petruzielo said of the school’s technology investments, adding that the warranties the district purchases for all of its technologies provides a “huge savings” for taxpayers.
Bobby Blount, assistant superintendent of technology, said the school’s two computer labs will have 32 computers per lab. He added the district will configure software licensing in June to determine what programs the STEM academy site will need in addition to the district’s standard software.
The facility’s cafeteria (or “cafetorium,” because it features a stage) and gymnasium are located on one side allowing the rest of the school to be secured without supervision. This also reduces air conditioning costs during events at the school that require only that portion of the building, Parrott said.
Parrott added the new school features a mechanical mezzanine, a structural feature above the ceiling designed to help maintenance staff maintain the facility and make any needed repairs to the school’s wiring or HVAC system without interrupting class time.
Also, the site has a new, still-unnamed road constructed by the county that allows for the separation of cars and buses. This will allow for shorter routes to heavily populated areas like the Centennial Lakes subdivision, Sims said, as it connects to Priest Road.