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Parents get first look at designs for new East Hamilton Middle School

Hamilton County Commissioners approved a $125 Million building plan for schools in the area last fall. Part of that plan includes creating a building for a new East Hamilton Middle School, leaving East Hamilton School as a high school. Hamilton County Schools spokesperson Tim Henlsey says growth and overcrowding in the East Hamilton area sparked the idea. (Image HCDE)

When it comes to the floor plan for a new East Hamilton Middle School some parents say they like it, but do have a few concerns.

Hamilton County Commissioners approved a $125 Million building plan for schools in the area last fall. Part of that plan includes creating a building for a new East Hamilton Middle School, leaving East Hamilton School as a high school. Hamilton County Schools spokesperson Tim Henlsey says growth and overcrowding in the East Hamilton area sparked the idea.

"I was impressed," said Erica Kramer. She has three children in the school system, two at Apison Elementary, right next to where the new middle school will be built. "I think it looks very nice."

Architects with TWH, hired by the Hamilton County school system, presented sketches for the two story school.

But concerns from parents like Kramer mostly referenced traffic in the area.

"The traffic is backed way out on East Brainerd Road everyday," said Kramer. "There's never a police officer there directing traffic and so it's definitely a concern adding 1200 students worth of families trying to get in and out of there in a timely fashion."

Justin Witt, school system's facilities director, says the new school will bring in 1200 students to the Brentwood Cove area. He says traffic is something engineers are looking at.

"We're studying the Apison Elementary traffic, along with the Middle/High school traffic, getting traffic counts, student counts, trying to estimate the number of car riders and bus riders and traffic flow," he said.

Witt says architects are also looking creating more sidewalks to encourage nearby neighborhoods to consider walking to school. While in the audience, Kramer asked about school rezoning.

"My middle daughter will be getting ready to start middle school when that school opens that first year," she said.

Superintendent Bryan Johnson says those plans won't be decided until next school year. While there are questions and concerns, Kramer says she thinks the school itself could be good for her kids.

"It looks great," she said. "It's always nice to have a new building and all of that."

Witt says the new middle school will be designed to account for the fast growth and development in the East Hamilton area. The school's current population is around 1800 hundred students; Witt said 800 of those would transfer to the middle school.

Hamilton County schools wants to look at contractors by the end of this year. They hope to break ground by February 2019 and have the school ready by 2020.

The building plan also includes a new building for Harrison Elementary, additions to Snow Hill Elementary, renovations at Howard Middle, renovations for Tyner High that will include a merger with Tyner Middle, and renovations to the Tyner Middle facility that will be the new home of Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts. As architects complete initial drawings for projects, additional meetings will be held in those communities.


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