It’s been a handful of years since Johnson City Schools established its ambitious Learning Plan, which includes a grade reconfiguration to provide a relief valve for overcrowded classrooms.
Millions upon millions of dollars have been and still are being spent to make this transition happen, including construction of the new Fairmont Elementary School, completion of the 9th-Grade Academy, new construction and renovation on the 10/12 campus and future expansion of Indian Trail Middle School.
Construction and renovations — except for planned additions to Indian Trail — are nearing an end, and the Board of Education will kick off the first of nine planned meetings next week designed to let parents and community members learn and ask questions about the transition.
The shuffle begins in earnest in August at the start of the 2012-13 school year.
Principals from Indian Trail, Liberty Bell, and Science Hill will be in attendance to discuss programs and services for their respective schools. Eldonna Janutolo from Johnson City Transit will be present to discuss the transportation plan.
“The meetings will be held to give information on the plan, but it also will be a good time for parents to meet principals and the transportation director,” said BOE Chairwoman Kathy Hall. “The meetings are informational and everyone will have a chance to ask questions.”
The plan moves all ninth-graders to a new academy at the high school. Liberty Bell will become a seventh- and eighth-grade campus, though only eighth graders occupy the area this year.
Indian Trail Middle School, which currently houses sixth and seventh graders, will house fifth- and sixth-grade students. School officials felt moving fifth-graders to the middle school would also open a number of classrooms at the elementary level.
Fairmont has taken in some pre-K students this fall from Cherokee, South Side and Mountain View elementary schools, and a minimal number of elementary students have transferred from Towne Acres Elementary to Fairmont.
Meanwhile, architect Tony Street has introduced the first visual offerings of what will be a roughly $2 million expansion and renovation at Indian Trail — a plan that at present has no funding source.
The joint Board of Education/City Commission Facilities Committee has been privy to Street’s initial renderings of what will be an expansion of the school’s existing cafeteria and the addition of eight new classrooms.
“We have looked at the preliminary plans, but unfortunately we’ve not identified funding,” Hall said.
Street said the approximately 800-square-foot classrooms will be constructed as two, two-story structures with two classrooms on the first floor and two on the second floor. Each classroom should handle about 25 students, making room for the school system’s growing number of students.
Street also showed plans to expand the school’s cafeteria by building an addition adjacent to the north side of the existing cafeteria which already seats about 250 students at three separate lunch breaks during each day.