School and city officials, residents and students gathered in front of Chamblee Charter High School April 16 to celebrate the start of a $54 million construction project to replace the school.
Established in 1917 and accredited in 1935, Chamblee High is one of DeKalb County’s oldest schools. Chamblee became a charter school in 2001 and serves approximately 1,400 students, including those in its magnet program.
The replacement project was originally slated to break ground at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year but was postponed when district officials found the original scope of the project to be approximately $10 million over budget.
“I wouldn’t say it was halted,” school spokesman Walter Woods said. “Prep work on the site has been ongoing but it’s fair to say demolition was delayed until the district found the best solution to deal with an expected budget override.”
If all goes as planned, students will be able to move out of the 32 modular classroom units behind the school and into the new classroom building when they return from winter break during the 2013-14 school year.
“The apartments will come down first and then they’ll start doing Phase I,” Woods said. “I think our original date was to move in at the beginning of the school year and begin construction but now we’re moving in in the middle of the school year.”
Phase II will begin with the demolition of the remaining portion of the existing school building and the construction of a fine arts wing, auditorium, natatorium and gymnasium, by the start of the 2014-15 school year.
“We’ve had some trials but we’re here,” Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said as she addressed the crowd. “I know this has been a long time coming for you.”