Sandy Springs is now the hub of the Fulton County School System’s student population. The Board of Education plans to consolidate six administrative offices resulting in two offices locally and one in Union City.
At its Monday meeting, the school board voted to purchase and renovate two office buildings to house the majority of the school system’s instructional and support personnel. New administrative buildings will be located at 6201 Powers Ferry Road, Sandy Springs; 450 Northridge Parkway, Sandy Springs; and 4025 Flat Shoals Road, Union City.
“Since I joined the Fulton County School System, I’ve been examining how our central office operates, how it could provide more support to schools and how it could be more efficient,” said Superintendent Robert Avossa, in an announcement. “Consolidating our support centers will provide greater service to students and the money saved in operational costs will benefit our taxpayers. These savings can be redirected to the classroom and invested into student learning.”
Two properties in Atlanta are slated for consolidation, along with offices in Alpharetta, Hapeville, East Point, and College Park.
In addition to the facilities’ aging conditions, School Board President Linda Schultz said that a factor in deciding to move the central office was the district’s shift in student population.
Roots and the Future
In the late 1950s, when the current Administrative Center opened in southwest Atlanta in a renovated office building, Fulton’s student population base was mostly located in South Fulton. The location was considered the geographic center of the district’s student population. However, due to growth in North Fulton, data from the 2010 Census shows that Sandy Springs is now the district’s student population center.
Although most administrative functions will be housed primarily in Sandy Springs, a support center will be located in South Fulton near the campus of Banneker High School. Currently the Flat Shoals Center is located on that land, but it will be torn down to make way for the new South Learning Center. Plans call for some departments, such as Professional Learning, GED testing, Student Discipline and School Police, to have satellite offices in both North and South Fulton.
The facilities selected for consolidation were chosen based on a Facility Condition Assessment conducted of all Fulton County schools and support buildings in preparation of the most recent SPLOST referendum. The assessment identified their physical needs and how the one-penny sales tax could support improvements. The six buildings slated for consolidation rated ‘poor’ during the assessment.
The buildings’ age also was considered as well as the costs to renovate or provide long-term maintenance in keeping with their current support function. The cost to extensively renovate the six buildings is estimated at $56 million, whereas consolidation offers millions in long-term savings. The district anticipates consolidation will yield a one-time $22 million capital investment savings and $2.2 million in reduced operating costs each year. After decommission, the buildings and land could be sold or repurposed for future district use.
“We’ve known for years that these buildings were close to the end of their life cycle but our focus has been on providing quality schools for students and teachers,” Schultz said. “But like older schools, administrative buildings become harder to maintain and costlier to operate as they age. When the time came to consider improved facilities, we knew it was also the time to look at the current location of our administrative centers and whether they were in the right place.”
Pending the final sale of the Sandy Springs properties, which is expected later this month, departments and staff will begin transitioning into their new buildings by September 2014. Moves will occur gradually over a series of months so that service to students and schools is not negatively impacted. All moves are expected to be complete by June 2015.