If voters approve a third renewal of the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST IV) in November, then Fernbank Elementary School would be one of six elementary schools in DeKalb slated for replacement. That is, torn down and rebuilt.
SPLOST IV would begin on Jan. 1, 2013, with a five-year lifespan, meaning construction would be slated to start before Dec. 31, 2017.
"My guess is 2013 or 2014 that construction would begin. One possibility is that the county might move to [recently decommissioned and closed] Medlock Elementary as a place to relocate while the school is being rebuilt,” said Marshall Orson, president of the Fernbank School Council and Emory LaVista Council co-president.
“My guess is that you really have 14 months. You get to the end of the school year, so you have from starting June till the beginning of August the following year to finish construction and open,” Orson said.
Splost III expires on Dec. 31. Under the system, sales tax dollars are collected, then they begin to build. According to Orson, no drawings are in place for Fernbank, which would receive about $21 million for the new facility.
The new school would probably be built on pretty much the same footprint and would probably not save any of the multi-purpose building addition that opened in the summer of 2006.
Orson said he expected the community would have an opportunity to weigh in on the project.
Amy Power, Fernbank PTA president briefed the Druid Hills Civic Assocation, some members of which said the new building would be a more attractive neighborhood recruitment tool.
“We had been advocating for a replacement, in connection with what happened during the redistricting process. We had advocated for an expanding Fernbank, understanding the county was going with a model for 900-student schools,” Orson said. “Because we’re an International Baccalaureate school, some students come from outside the district via a lottery. By having a larger school, we can accommodate more students and strengthen the program," he said.
The district also might expand, he said. “We're already at 700, so we're not talking about a huge increase,” he said.