CCSB reveals details on new high school

Published 10:30 am Saturday, December 23, 2023

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The Chambers County School Board (CCSB) had its last meeting of the year on Wednesday. In it, Superintendent Casey Chambley revealed the first look, mascot, and colors of the new consolidated high school to the board members. The school will be named Chambers County High School.

While the board went over the first renderings in an over 20-page packet, they were told to be careful of showing the pages to the members of the public in attendance. 

“This information is FBI top secret,” Chambley said. 

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A big announcement to the public is scheduled for Jan. 24, when the CCSB will show the next iteration of the renderings, the school colors and the mascot. However, during the meeting, Chambley did walk through some of the features and the layout of the new school.

The site plan was designed by a team of architects after a community hearing and three separate surveys. Chambley said most community members agreed on the name of the new school. The suggestions for mascots and colors were more varied. 

The new school will be two stories comprised of an academic wing, an “active” wing, a common area, two gymnasiums and a separate career tech building. 

A traffic circle will lead visitors to the school’s entrance. Inside is the common area, which is where students will eat lunch. There is not a specified lunch room, but the common room will have a food court area and seating within it. Chambley said the commons area can be used for school events and is large enough to fit every teacher in the school system. 

To the right will be a social stair, which are two large staircases with large platforms to the side for seating. Up the stairs is the media center. 

In the active wing, athletic departments will be housed. This includes space for the JROTC, locker rooms, weight rooms, and two gymnasiums; an auxiliary and a competition gym.  

“You need spaces for kids because you have so many athletic teams and basketball teams that practice during the day. You don’t want to keep your kids practicing for too long so you need to have those. And you can share the lobby area with your concessions and you can get kids home sooner and quicker,” Chambley said. 

The academic wing will house the core subject classrooms, as well as some of the career tech programs. The rest of the career tech courses will be in a separate career tech center with a precision machine lab, agriculture shop and others. The school is required to have at least five programs in a separate building to keep “center status,” which comes with federal funding. 

Behind the buildings will be a small courtyard area that opens to a large covered arcade. Behind will be a grass practice field for JROTC and marching band. 

The main buildings are a part of the first phase of the construction. Things like a football field house and updates or additions to other athletic fields will come in phase two. These phase two additions are called “alternate paths.” When the CCSB takes the bid from the contractor, if the bid is under budget, they can add alternates to the phase one plans.

However, before any of the phase two features of the high school start there are other priorities, Chambley said. 

“The new K eight magnet is going to have to be the next thing that is going to have to be done… that will be built before that other phase two of the athletic stuff comes up.”

After being decided by a lengthy court case, the school will be located in Valley, behind Rams Stadium on Fairfax Bypass. The decision to have the school in Valley, rather than in a centralized location between Valley and LaFayette, has resulted in community members protesting at school board meetings. 

Chambley said the decision to put the new school in Valley had to do with the cost of infrastructure. He argued that because Valley has more of the infrastructure in place it avoids unnecessary spending. The cost of building a new football stadium alone would make the project unmanageable, Chambley added. 

Chambley said that the timeframe where other appeals could be made on the ruling allowing the school to be in Valley had passed. 

“Neither side asked to appeal the decision made by the judge. We know that the two decisions were where the high school could be built, and that we would leave both high schools open until the new school was built…So that we’re past that so we’re full move and full steam ahead now with this,” he said.