Dozens of officials past and present gathered at the new Calhoun City Schools central office Monday morning to officially cut the ceremonial ribbon and open the doors for the public.

The $2.6 million project on South Wall Street, which includes about 10,000 square feet on two levels, was constructed using Education Special Purpose, Local Option Sales Tax and general funds. Robertson, Loia and Roof Architects designed the facility that replicates the original College Street School built in 1902. Momon Construction built the two-story structure.

Calhoun Mayor Jimmy Palmer was one of several speakers during the event, and he mentioned how the city first voted to levy a tax to pay for the school system in 1901. The following year marked the formation of the Calhoun Board of Education.

Palmer said the city has been blessed since then with dedicated school board members a community that provides constant support. The mayor also recognized Georgia Rep. Matt Barton, R-Calhoun, thanking him for his support of local education, and noted that a tree had been planted at the central office in honor of the late Rep. John Meadows, whom Barton replace in the state House of Representatives after Meadow’s death.

Superintendent Michele Taylor also recognized board members, former board members, alumni of the old College Street School, the architects and construction company, central office staff, and the family that dedicated the land for the project, among others.

“This building will serve our precious children on years to come,” Taylor.

The central office staff has been sharing space with the school system’s pre-K program in the old Eastside School building, a structure built in 1967 using an open floor plan. Over the years, partitions, shelving and temporary walls have divided the spaces; however, there hasn’t been a remedy for the lack of walls and doors to create safe spaces in the event of an emergency. Taylor also noted the noise level has been an issue for employees and for students in the shared space.

Moving the central office personnel to the new building is just one part of the overall plan, because the pre-K students will be moved temporarily to another building while the Eastside building is torn down and a mew Early Learning Academy is constructed.

Calhoun pre-K and Junior Jacket Academy will close out the school year in the Eastside building on Barrett Road and the 12 classes will relocate to the Primary and Elementary Complex facility on Raymond King Drive for the 2020-2022 school years as part of the long range facilities plan.

CCS is presently working with Architects Robertson, Loia and Roof to design an Early Learning Academy that will house the Junior Jacket Academy, pre-K and kindergarten. Funding for the project will come from state capital outlay funds, education SPLOST and the schools’ general fund.

The Calhoun Early Learning Academy will open at the Barrett Road site with 37 regular classroom spaces, a cafeteria, media center and gymnasium. Due to the structural issues and safety concerns of the Eastside building, Taylor said it would be more costly to renovate than to tear down, so demolition will begin as soon as the 2019-2020 school year is completed.

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