At its Oct. 15 meeting, the school board voted to purchase and renovate two office buildings to house the majority of the school system’s instructional and support staff.
The board plans to close six of the oldest support facilities in Atlanta, Alpharetta, Hapeville, College Park and East Point and consolidate into three locations – two in Sandy Springs and one in Union City.
The facilities selected for closure were chosen based on an assessment conducted of all Fulton County schools and support buildings in preparation for the most recent special purpose local option sales tax referendum.
The six buildings slated for consolidation rated “poor” during the assessment.
The cost to renovate the six buildings was estimated at $56 million, whereas consolidation will yield a one-time $22 million capital investment savings and $2.2 million in reduced operating costs each year.
After decommission, the buildings and land could be sold or repurposed for future district use.
Pending the final sale of the Sandy Springs properties, which is expected later this month, departments and staff will begin transitioning into their new buildings by September 2014.
Moves will occur gradually over a series of months so service to students and schools is not negatively impacted.
All moves are expected to be complete by June 2015.
“Since I joined the Fulton County School System, I’ve been examining how our central office operates, how it could provide more support to schools and how it could be more efficient,” Superintendent Robert Avossa said in a statement. “Consolidating our support centers will provide greater service to students and the money saved in operational costs will benefit our taxpayers. These savings can be redirected to the classroom and invested into student learning.”
In addition to the facilities’ aging conditions, school board president Linda Schultz said a factor in deciding to move the central office was the district’s shift in student population.
“We’ve known for years that these buildings were close to the end of their life cycle but our focus has been on providing quality schools for students and teachers,” she said in a statement. “But like older schools, administrative buildings become harder to maintain and costlier to operate as they age. When the time came to consider improved facilities, we knew it was also the time to look at the current location of our administrative centers and whether they were in the right place.”
In the late 1950s, when the administrative center opened in southwest Atlanta in a renovated office building, Fulton’s student population base was mostly located in south Fulton.
The location was considered the geographic center of the district’s student population.
However, due to growth in north Fulton, data from the 2010 census shows Sandy Springs is now the district’s student population center.
Although most administrative functions will be housed primarily in Sandy Springs, a support center will be located in south Fulton near the campus of Banneker High School.
The Flat Shoals center will be torn down to make way for the new South Learning Center.
Plans call for some departments to have satellite offices in north and south Fulton.