Rickards High School and Fairview Middle are set to undergo major changes. It's something Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna says is long overdue. Meanwhile, other schools, mostly located in the Northeast, are getting crowded.
Construction on Rickards and Fairview will begin this summer. The Rickards work includes moving ball fields, adding parking and knocking down and rebuilding classrooms. At Fairview, it’s a new cafeteria to start, and then a new administration building, band room and ultimately, new classrooms too. Leon county school board chairwoman Alva Swafford Striplin says the projects will be in phases.
“Obviously the minute the kids get out for school a phase will be done and complete in time for them to go back in August and the next phase would be done the following Summer," she said.
The projects are expected to take two to three years. A big hurdle remaining is how to pay for it all. The first phases are funded but the rest aren’t, and the total price tag for both schools is about $50 million. The district has about half if it on hand, but to get the rest, it may have to issue bonds, something Hanna says he'll likely do, once the district pays down some of its existing debts. Hanna says he’s trying to fulfill a promise to Southside families to improve both schools.
Also on the construction list is W.T. Moore. New housing communities are popping up in Leon County and that’s putting enrollment pressure on it along with others. The district is planning to build a new parking lot and reconfigure the school to provide more classroom space.
Some Leon County districts have too many students while others don’t have enough. W.T. Moore could soon hit capacity once the Wulanee development is complete, and Superintendent Rocky Hanna says Leon is considering how to even out the numbers across the district.
“I think we can deal with that problem by shifting those lines around very subtly to fill in the empty seats at Buck Lake and Chaires as well as Swift Creek and Deerlake to alleviate any overcrowding at Moore, Roberts and Montford Middle Schools," he said.
The district is also looking into adding on to Chiles High School along with further rezoning between Leon, Lincoln and Chiles. Hanna says those options are cheaper than building new schools.