CARROLLTON, GA – After more than a year of research and months of study to determine the viability of the project, Carrollton City Schools is ready to move forward with plans to construct a multi-activity center to support a growing enrollment and the community expectation to provide exceptional facilities for academics and beyond.
Carrollton City Schools Supt. Dr. Mark Albertus, at the Carrollton Board of Education work session Nov. 9, outlined the preliminary scope of the project, which will expand on plans for an auxiliary gym voters approved in the last Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax renewal.
Albertus said that by putting the two projects together and extending the footprint, there would be considerable cost savings and would allow for the ability to construct a more versatile space that will do more than serve athletics. He noted the standard for high schools with enrollments as large as CHS requires several indoor spaces to accommodate student activities on this scale.
“Add to that our unique position of serving four schools on one campus, and you can see the great opportunity we have to use this facility to its full potential,” he said. “This proposal allows us to repurpose the existing practice field to serve many more students in many more ways. It is a cost effective strategy that will make a big impact.”
This impact goes beyond student participation, said Albertus.
“Carrollton and the surrounding community already greatly benefit economically from the events hosted on our campus, the most recent example being the Georgia High School Association cross country championships held last weekend. With that one, two-day event alone, the local economic impact is estimated to be $1.25 million. Think about all the other events we host on campus and now – with this new facility – the potential to host even more. Carrollton as a community can benefit financially from this project.”
Albertus said Carrollton won’t be the first Georgia school district to construct such a facility. Other districts, such as Rabun, Troup and Colquitt counties, Rome City and Callaway High School either have, or are in the process of building, a multi-activity center. He also noted schools in several other states have benefited from the use of the centers, including neighboring Alabama.
The proposal moves the planned auxiliary gym from the high school campus to the back field behind the baseball complex. This location gives plenty of room to expand the footprint for the multi-activity center with little additional prep work. It also places both facilities in a more centralized location to better serve all schools.
Albertus said funding for the combined project will include a mix of public dollars already approved for the gym and private donations. Donors who have already endorsed the plan have committed about $1.1 million of the $2 million projected for completion.
“When the high school project is finished, all of our schools will be in great shape,” said Albertus. “We will have plenty of classroom space for years to come. This auxiliary gym and the multi-activity center will complement our existing state-of-the-art venues now serving students in specialized programs, such as the Mabry Center for the Arts and the two-story band building, both on the CHS campus. While the new gym will be used for athletics and health classes primarily, the multi-activity center will be much more flexible, allowing the 50-plus programs that 80 percent of our students participate in use the versatile space.”
Parent Meredith Harris, president of the CHS Band Booster Club, said the band family is “thrilled” at the prospect of the new facility and what it will mean for the band program, from serving as a refuge during hot summer band camp days to becoming an alternative venue to bolster the booster’s annual Legacy of Champions band competition in October.
“There is no other band competition that we know of that has the ability to move performances into an indoor facility in the case of inclement weather,” she said. “With this facility, we won’t have to cancel a competition, which means we won’t lose our fundraising potential from the event. We will even be able to live stream the performances to audiences in the Mabry Center or the gym. No other band program can offer that.”
Harris also noted the school administration has been very open about the project and has included many voices at the table.
“We felt like the band boosters were a part of the process,” she said. “We appreciate having the opportunity to be involved.”
Carrollton alum Melanie McLendon spends many hours on campus as a parent and volunteer. As the mother of three involved sons, she has seen first hand the level of activity before and after the regular school day.
“I am on campus early in the morning until late at night many days a week,” she said. “It is not unusual to see practice going on during those extreme times because of spaced out scheduling caused by practice conflicts and weather conditions – a testament to the dedication of our students and coaches. I love seeing the campus alive and feel the multi-activity center will provide our students a place to optimize their practice environment – whether it be for sports or other activities.”
This versatility “makes this facility a win-win for all of our students,” she continued. “I could not be more thrilled to be part of a community that supports and recognizes the importance of extracurricular activities in developing the whole child. We are very fortunate.”
Albertus said that while the new multi-activity center is primarily designed to serve the Carrollton City Schools student body, it will also be open for community use, especially by the city recreation department, which already uses the campus for football, track and other events. He also noted another facility upgrade, the campus tennis complex, is nearing completion and it won’t be long before it will be teeming not just with student athletes but community members who have been waiting to put the courts back in use.
“We realize our facilities are under our stewardship as a school district, and we take great pride in keeping them in top shape,” said Albertus. “But we also understand that they are really the community’s assets. The addition of the multi-activity center will add another valuable asset to this portfolio.”