Pardon Our Progress!

I’ve written before about the tons of major construction projects in Atlanta Public Schools over the summer from HVAC to new buildings and renovations to portables and playgrounds. And now we’re nearly one month into a new school year, and I have had a chance to access many of those that have recently wrapped up or are ongoing through the new school year.

A sampling of the detailed plans that go into a school construction project.

A sampling of the detailed plans that go into a school construction project.

Over at Long Middle School, we are in the early stages of what will be a gorgeous renovation. I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with the extra care employees at Winter Construction have put into making sure the areas under construction on campus are safe while students continue to attend classes there. Principal Lisa Hill gave me my very own hardhat to wear as we toured the campus. Click here to follow the progress of the construction, due to be completed fall of 2016.

When Sylvan Middle School has its ribbon cutting later this fall it will be wonderful! Sylvan looks amazing! After a serious renovation, students are back in the building, and everyone is enjoying the new facility. Below are a few photos of the redesigned school, and I look forward to helping them officially dedicate the new buildings soon. We also still have work to do here on the play fields, auditorium and gym but that plan is underway! Welcome home, Principal Portee!


Working with Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan to stack Mary Lin library books.

Mary Lin Elementary is one of several schools in the district that are in the midst of a multi-phase construction and renovation project. I’ve toured the construction site multiple times, given feedback to our contractors and operations leaders, met with the construction crew and new principal, Sharon Briscoe. I can promise the parents and staff that we are doing all we can to make the worksite super safe and move along the construction so that more of the building will be available for use.

If you have ever met me or worked with me, you will know that I do not like it when a plan does not come together. So imagine what went through my head when I walked the Mary Lin site with the first day of school looming. I couldn’t pour the concrete, install the windows or lay the brick. It was clear that we had to open behind schedule. And, that was so disappointing to me, and I know was disappointing to our Mary Lin families and staff.

Then, to add insult to injury, I passed by the media center and was crushed when I saw how overwhelmed the school was in trying to get it set up in time for school. There were dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of boxes stacked on top of one another, filled with books waiting to be shelved. I had to do something – anything to help. I wanted to immediately get busy and start unpacking. I called Principal Briscoe and reached out to media specialist Dr. Zenobia Johnson and hatched “Operation Book It!” Our Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan and I snuck back up to Mary Lin late at night to begin unpacking boxes.

A team effort from employees and volunteers made "Operation Book It!" a success.

A team effort from employees and volunteers made “Operation Book It!” a success.

We unpacked and unpacked into the wee hours. And, yes, it was hard dusty work, but it was also a blast. David is just as crazy about a good project as I am and was happy to lend a hand. We had both clearly forgotten the Dewey Decimal System, so it was slow going to get started. We unpacked, maybe, 100 boxes (we lost count after a certain point), but there was more to do. The next night, I brought back more central office staff, and we joined Mary Lin parent volunteers and unpacked some more until we finished enough to make the space usable and quite pretty! I must apologize for the best-laid plans for falling apart, but as a team, we made it all happen!

And, then there’s Inman Middle School – a project plagued with slow-moving permits and work that went beyond our Day One deadline. I’ve been following the construction of portables at Inman Middle School closely since the summer. While we were not able

Principal Dr. Betsy Bockman takes me through some of Inman's portables.

Principal Dr. Betsy Bockman takes me through some of Inman’s portables.

to have the new portables online during the first week and a half of school, eighth-grade students and teachers held lessons in the new portables last week, and our technology team worked feverishly to make sure Promethean boards and Wi-Fi worked in the new spaces. There is still work to be done, but I’m happy to report that learning is taking place and students are no longer using a temporary space. I can’t wait to have a permanent solution for Grady cluster overcrowding. I am looking forward to my meeting with the community on Thursday, Sept. 24, to wrap up our discussions and plan.

What an awesome feeling it will be it is to see all of these plans come together!!! Again, pardon our progress, and thank you so much for your patience!

Principal Sharon Briscoe shows progress of construction at Mary Lin Elementary.

Principal Sharon Briscoe shows progress of construction at Mary Lin Elementary.


Despite slow progress of construction on portables at Inman Middle, teaching goes on!

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