Wheeler High and Smyrna Elementary get $40.6 million in upgrades
by Lindsay Field
July 23, 2013 12:07 AM | 6137 views | 2 2 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Chuck Braddock, assistant principal in charge of construction projects at Wheeler High School, looks out over the footprint of the former basketball gymnasium Monday as heavy equipment hauls away debris to make way for the new design.
Dr. Chuck Braddock, assistant principal in charge of construction projects at Wheeler High School, looks out over the footprint of the former basketball gymnasium Monday as heavy equipment hauls away debris to make way for the new design.
Smyrna Elementary School has a sleek new design after $19.6 million in upgrades.
Smyrna Elementary School has a sleek new design after $19.6 million in upgrades.
Almost 3,000 students in Cobb County will be welcomed back to shiny new school buildings at the start of the school year on Aug. 7.

Construction for both the $21.1 million rebuild of Wheeler High School and the $19.5 million new construction of Smyrna Elementary School are coming to a close. These projects are funded with SPLOST III dollars.

The Cobb County School Board approved construction at Wheeler, which is at 375 Holt Road in east Cobb, in August 2011. The contract, which is $4 million, or 19 percent over budget, was awarded to Hogan Construction Group of Norcross.

The project included demolishing the existing building, which was originally built in 1964, and building the new, two-story, 143,181-square-foot facility in front of where the parking lot once stood.

And once the doors open in a few weeks, it will be home to about 2,000 students and another 186 staff members.

David Chiprany, who has helped lead this project as the school’s principal, said the last two years battling through the construction have been daunting.

“I just remember thinking about the amount of thought that went into completely altering our campus to make this happen, and then seeing it work and then everyone rising to the occasion,” he said. “It is something I’ll never forget. Everybody stepped up.”

For the last two years, Wheeler’s campus has been a cluster for students, teachers and visitors.

They have had to park across the street at East Cobb Middle or at a nearby church and been dispersed among 38 trailers.

“Now we’ve come to a point where we’re going to have this amazing new building that’s going to basically bring our campus together,” he said. “No more classrooms in portables, we’ll have a centralized cafeteria and media center and basically the entire campus under one roof.”

Kitchen, media center impressive

Some of the things Chiprany is most excited about are the new culinary arts program kitchen, media center and cafeteria.

“We went from a couple of ranges and ovens (in culinary arts) to a kitchen that any chef would die for,” he said.

Chiprany said the media center, which is much larger than their old one, will be more functional, has classroom space inside, and allows for more technology availability.

The cafeteria, which can be used as a multi-purpose room with a screen that comes down for presentations, is a venue that the school can use for an assembly if needed.

“It all just seems to be a lot more efficient, and it’ll be easier for our students and staff to navigate,” he said.

The only thing left to complete at Wheeler — aside from the school’s new, $19 million theater and gymnasium that were approved in SPLOST IV — will be the parking lot.

Contractors are finishing up demolition of the original school, which is where the lot will be relocated, and it’s expected to be done before December.

Smyrna Elementary nears completion

Construction of Smyrna Elementary School, which was without an official name until earlier this year, is pretty much complete and teachers have already begun setting up their classrooms for the 2013-14 school year.

“Everything is pretty much a go,” said project manager Charles Sprayberry. “Furniture and equipment has been delivered and it’s a beautiful school and in great shape.”

The Cobb School Board approved construction in December 2011 of the new school at 1099 Fleming St. in Smyrna. It is approximately $1.6 million, or 8 percent, over budget.

It will serve students from Brown Elementary, which closed in May, and the overflow from schools that were over capacity in the area.

The almost $20-million, 153,000-square-feet project was awarded to Carroll Daniel Construction of Gainesville and it includes a 61-classroom, two-story building on an 18-acre lot near downtown Smyrna, is based on the city’s strict redevelopment guidelines and is environmentally friendly.

Smyrna Elementary was designed to meet the standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and will be the first LEED certified, K-12 building in Cobb County once opened.

Cobb Schools partnered with the International Knowledge and Research Center for Green Building at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta for the LEED certification project.

LEED certification covers five areas: the site, water usage, energy usage, materials used for the structure and indoor air quality.

The average LEED school has about $100,000 in annual direct savings, $47,000 of which is energy costs, Clint Mays, chief administrative officer with SPSU, previously said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 23, 2013
Since the windows of the new Smyrna school are just solid window panes & do not open and the school is so massive in size, I wonder about children being trapped in a smoke filled fire and have to travel extra long halls to get out. This looks like a fire & smoke disaster to be trapped in the middle of this school with 800 or so other people scrambling to get out. And with panic situation of no electric, the halls would be dark making more likely of disaster. LEED certify only if the electric is working!! They say nothing about SAFETY in case of FIRE.
anonymous 1
August 05, 2013
An architect speaking here who is involved daily in the design of schools. The building codes require that paths of egress from the building be sized to handle all of the students. The more students there are, the width of the halls and stairways are increased. Secondly, I have toured this building and it is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system and a fully monitored fire alarm system. Last, if the building were to catch fire and loose power, there is an emergency back-up generator that powers lights on an emergency circuit and the exit lights. The way this works is if the power goes out, the generator automatically starts and turns on lights so occupants can see to evacuate the building. All that being said, the building is constructed of concrete, concrete block, and steel and the steel has a cement based fireproofing installed to protect the steel from fire to maintain structural integrity in the event of a fire. It would literally take a catastrophic event such as a bomb or plane crashing into the building to create a fire in this building.
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