Parents learned last week that incoming kindergarten and first-grade students at Teasley will be housed at Brown Elementary School, which is about three miles away, for the next two school years.
“We are thrilled with the recent announcement that the county is taking such decisive and immediate action to address the overcrowding at Teasley,” said parent and school council president Susanne Saad.
Saad, along with a handful of other Teasley parents, have been speaking to the school board during meetings, requesting that their school be one of the first to undergo much-needed construction updates because of enrollment.
“We look forward to partnering with the county in making this a smooth process for all Teasley students and families,” said Teasley parent Laura Martin.
The school’s capacity is capped out at 456 students, and this past school year there were 730 students enrolled in the Smyrna-area school. Next year’s enrollment is projected to be about 800.
“The need for additional classrooms is crucial,” said incoming Teasley PTA president Shannon Ottinger.
Chris Ragsdale, the district’s deputy superintendent of operations, said they decided to move students temporarily in order to make way for the $3.1 million in additions and renovations outlined in SPLOST IV that approved by Cobb County voters in March.
Teasley should get 10 extra classrooms built for about $1.7 million, in addition to the relocation of some playground equipment, utilities and paving, and upgrades in site conditions.
Ragsdale told the school board last month that Teasley, along with Walton and Wheeler high schools, are going to be among the first schools to be renovated using SPLOST IV funds.
“They are overcrowded now and will be next year so they need to get that addition ASAP,” he said.
Because of the school property’s layout, it’s not possible to house portable classrooms on the campus while renovations are done, and the three portables on campus now also will have to be removed.
The only way around the problem, and to make sure Teasley gets the additions and renovations as approved, is to shift the two younger grades to Brown for the next two years, Ragsdale said.
Brown was approved for closure last year in light of a large south Cobb redistricting. The staff and students there will be moved to the new Smyrna Elementary School.
Fitzhugh Lee HAVEN Academy students were scheduled to be moved into Brown as a result of the redistricting, but that now will be delayed.
“(The Fitzhugh Lee staff and students) are disappointed, as I would be as well, but they aren’t forgotten,” said area Assistant Superintendent Dale Gaddis. “This is something that occurred that wasn’t anticipated but they’re not off the grid and they will get their move but it’ll just take a little bit longer.”
Fitzhugh Lee, at 4400 W. Atlanta Road in Smyrna, is Cobb’s oldest school, dating back to 1896, and serves children with autism, severe emotional disorders and other special needs. Gaddis also talked about what he’s hearing from parents or teachers at Teasley.
“Some people have concerns about children being at two different facilities but we are working it out to be as unintrusive as possible,” he said. “There will be bumps along the road but we are adamant that this is what the Teasley community wants.”
In an effort to ease any inconveniences, Ragsdale said they are coordinating the bus schedules and the afterschool program will still be housed at the Teasley building, so students at Brown will be bussed there every afternoon.
“We are trying to make pick-up and drop-off for parents as seamless and unchanged as possible,” he said. “We are trying to over communicate as much as we can to make sure everybody is on the same page. The end result is a win for the Teasley community and parents.”
The Brown Elementary location of Teasley students will be referred to as Teasley Primary over the next two years, and Teasley Elementary will continue to be referred to as that. The Brown location will house about 300 students, and Teasley about 500.
“We are excited that the Board of Education has found a way to move forward with the expansion of Teasley and that they had facilities available for us to use during the process,” said Teasley PTA president Angela Blackwell.
“The board and administration have been responsive to our concerns about overcrowding.”