Deputy Superintendent of Operations Patrick Burke delivered a lengthy progress report about the initiative — currently in its pre-design programming phase — during the June 19 board of education meeting.
He noted officials’ efforts to garner community input — via forums, workshops, meetings with teachers and administrators — have been fairly productive.
“Some common themes coming forward are parents want us to design a home for all learners, … a place for students and teachers to come together, [where] different types of learning styles are addressed,” Burke said. “We want a place for collaboration, lots of concepts or comments around flexible learning environments — collaborative learning opportunities.”
In January 2013 the district announced a plan to move Heards Ferry to a new campus and expand the adjoining Riverwood High campus onto that land, with both schools’ new campuses expected to open in August 2015. The district also considered redeveloping Heards Ferry’s current campus but opted to move it to a site on Powers Ferry Road near Interstate 285.
Residents also expressed concerns about the International Baccalaureate program at Riverwood — specifically having something that ties that school to the IB program, whether it’s a design element or something from an instructional perspective, Burke said.
Other issues raised by interested parties pertain to size and layout. Below-standard space for science, below-standard technology, and limited space for collaboration and fostering an environment for problem-based learning are also on their agenda.
“The nice thing is ed specs [educational specifications] drive a lot of these solutions already. … So as you start to hear these comments from the community, they’re making comments from their experience at Riverwood and not the experience of a new school,” said Burke.
“So, if you looked at a new school and what we build in Fulton County and, as we design, any architect that’s given those educational specifications is going to meet a lot of those needs.”
The Riverwood makeover — the beneficiary of an E-SPLOST program — was originally designed as an addition-renovation project. In all, it entails a 26-instructional unit addition with a $33 million budget.
The pre-design programming phase will culminate in a design competition in the fall. Burke’s presentation was preceded by an impassioned plea from a Riverwood parent about the matter.
“We have an opportunity to really make some positive changes,” said the man, who did not identify himself.
“Working for SPLOST is always working for the good of the whole county because we know it has to pass through the whole county.
“But I didn’t know this time what we were really working for at Riverwood. You assumed $30 million can fix any problem. … Well, as we started digging into it, we realized that there’s just a lot of things here that aren’t fixable.”