Catoosa residents, parents, teachers and children will have an opportunity Thursday evening to have a say in the future of Catoosa County’s planned third high school.
The Catoosa County Board of Education will host a town hall meeting to discuss programs and funding options for the school at the Colonnade on March 10 at 7 p.m.
“Recent escalated growth of enrollment has required the board to move up their timeline for the building of a new high school,” said Beth Kellerhals, Catoosa County School superintendent. “Decisions must be made regarding the type of school needed and how to fund the cost of construction.”
Options for the type of school include a comprehensive high school, a career/technical or vocational/technical school, a magnet school, or a ninth grade or freshman academy, which all county freshmen would attend.
School board member Garland Nance said he is anxious to hear what the public wants.
“I don’t have a particular preference to the style of school,” he said. “The reason for the meeting is to see what the public wants and bind by the wishes of majority.”
Susan Wells, Catoosa County Schools director of student services, said that members of the school system’s student advisory council will assist with the event by leading the invocation, pledge, providing the National Anthem and greeting the public who attend.
“We certainly hope students also participate in the portion of the program where thoughts or suggestions are made,” she said.
Student advisory council member Justin Tinker, a Ringgold High School junior, recently participated in tabulating a survey of 1,400 students asking their preference for the format the next high school should take.
“Overall, a comprehensive high school would be best (according to the survey),” he said. “I am for the comprehensive or freshman academy.”
He said the freshman academy will only be a short-term answer.
“We are still going to have people moving into the county,” he said. “If you go comprehensive you have more room to grow.”
The Heritage Middle School campus, off Poplar Springs Road and Talley Circle, is being considered to house the new high school.
Architects estimate that a comprehensive high school will cost approximately $22 million.
Two of the three funding options under consideration to pay for the school are to issue bonds or rely primarily on monies generated by the next round of one-penny educational special-purpose local-option sales tax, which if approved by voters will begin collections in July 2007.
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Don Dycus, school board chairman, previously said he is awaiting more public input, but the third funding option requiring bond money to be paid back by E-SPLOST funds may be the best choice.
Dycus said an early vote on the next round of E-SPLOST — possibly in spring 2006 — and utilizing state funds and money from the sale of property could give the school system an opportunity to “hit the ground running” on construction.
In order to issue bonds, which are bank-issued guaranteed certificates that accrue interest, a referendum will be required.
The school system would be responsible for paying back the bond with interest.
School officials estimate the cost of issuing bonds at roughly $300,000 for bond counsel, attorney’s fees and underwriter costs.In other business Tuesday, March 1 at the Catoosa County Board of Education central office, the school board appointed Chris Lusk as an assistant principal at Heritage Middle School.