The next steps to replace Midway Elementary School have been taken as the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved a sketch plat from the Board of Education during a recent regular meeting on Thursday, March 17.
The new school will be located between Mullinax and Fowler roads and feature a 136,920-square-foot elementary school with 215 parking spaces on 87.14 acres currently zoned agricultural district (A1).
Greg Pruitt, director of facilities planning for Forsyth County Schools, and Matt Wark, chief facilities officer, presented the sketch plat to the board.
Pruitt said that Midway Elementary School was built in 1961 and has faced problems with student capacity and traffic along Atlanta Hwy., or Hwy. 9, where it is currently located.
In 2013, the Forsyth County News reported that parents were concerned that the overcrowding at Midway was “affecting the climate of [the] school.”
Parents and school volunteers spoke to the Board of Education in 2013, talking about safety concerns and lower achievement based on class size.
At the meeting on Thursday, Wark said that at the current location, the parking lot can fit “roughly 30” cars in one lane. At the new location, he said the parking lot will be able to stack over 100 vehicles and could possibly expand to 150 cars if double-stacking is possible.
“Going from 30 [cars] to that [many], we feel we’ve accommodated [that need],” Wark said.
Midway currently has over 1,000 students, which Wark said the new location would accommodate as well.
Pruitt said the school is designed to be one story like Poole’s Mill Elementary but with an exterior to “complement” Denmark High School to fit into the “aesthetic” in the area.
Wark said the project is looking to go under contract in July or August with the potential to begin “[moving] dirt” in October or November.
He said that the build-out will likely take about 12-14 months, but the Board of Education has not yet agreed upon to the future development of the property.
According to Wark, the school is slated to open in the fall of 2024.
During a board of education meeting in June, FCS Spokesperson Jennifer Caracciolo presented a list of the school system’s capital needs in the next five years, one of which was the replacement for Midway.
Caracciolo said during the June meeting that the school was not a candidate for expansion because of its proximity to businesses and the building and furniture for the facility is expected to cost $38 million.
Forsyth County Schools plans to put a new referendum on the ballot for voters in November to help finance restorations in older schools, building expansions and a new elementary school.
If approved, the Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or E-SPLOST, referendum would continue with a 1% sales tax on goods and services, meaning anyone who spends money in Forsyth County, regardless of where they live, would contribute to these capital projects within the district.
The 1% tax is currently in place as voters have approved five other E-SPLOST referendums in the past, the most recent being in 2016. With E-SPLOST V ending in June 2022, FCS is giving voters the option to continue with the sales tax with E-SPLOST VI.
During board discussion at the meeting on Thursday, District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent, who represents this area, said that the approval from the board of commissioners was more of a “courtesy” out of “respect for us” from the BOE.
He said that the board of education does not need approval from commissioners, nor do they need a rezoning of the land to begin the project.
Commissioners voted to approve the sketch plat for the replacement elementary school for Midway with a unanimous vote, 4-0, with District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper absent from the meeting.