What good is having your own ‘major’ political blog if you can’t kick-start a conversation or two about a local issue?
The issue in particular I want to look at today is the need for a second Lee County High School and a discussion of where it should go.
Reports of overcrowding at the current Lee County High have apparently been rampant for at least a few years now, and quite simply, the school has pretty much maxed out its available space. Every addition to the current building now is taking away from some other aspect of the school that needs that space for its own purposes. For example, the addition of extra parking at the front of the school has cut into the band’s practice field, rendering it ineffective for full-blown practices and/or limiting what the band can do in their halftime show as far as movement goes.
Indeed, these reports are still rampant, even with the freshman being placed on their own separate campus.
So I went to the Georgia Department of Education’s website to try to see if I could find any guidance on site selection for a high school, and I found this document. Apparently, a highschool needs 20 acres, plus one additional acre for every 100 students. Taking the number of kids currently in Lee County elementary schools and rounding to the nearest thousand, I based my search around needing about 50 acres – 20 base acres and 30 acres based on 3,000 kids.
I also looked at the current LCHS site and saw that it was roughly 25 acres – for those that don’t recognize it in this picture, it is the green site. Since it is already overcrowded at roughly 1500 students – half what I’m trying to plan for – I wanted a site that was bigger than 25 acres.
I also wanted a site somewhere near the southern end of Lee County, since that is by far the most populated area, and therefore where most of the kids going to the school will be. The closer the school is the where the majority of its students live, the lower the transportation costs to the system and hopefully more parents will be able and willing to be more involved, since the school is so close to home rather than on the other side of the county.
I intentionally avoided the area of the City of Leesburg itself, since my next consideration was traffic, and the presence of all existing schools in the City of Leesburg causes major traffic issues for all concerned already, particularly at drop off and pick up times. Because of this traffic consideration though, I wanted to make sure that for whatever sites I chose, the roads were decently well equipped to handle additional loads.
Based on these two criteria alone, and the idea that the site needs to appear to be decently ready to build on, at least from a Google Earth search, I found four sites I think are good to at a minimum start the conversation about where a second LCHS needs to go.
The red site in the picture is just off Fussell RD near the LeDo line and is roughly 60 acres. From what I could tell in the satellite imagery, it looked to be a hay field with a rodeo area in one corner – and a private baseball field adjacent to the site, which could be improved into a ball field for the new high school’s baseball and/ or softball team.
The purple site is roughly 30 acres and is directly on Philema Road. Right now, it looks to be a private residence that borders a roughly 75 home subdivision. Possible issues here include the presence of a bar and a gas station – both with alcohol licenses – directly adjacent and across the street from this site.
The yellow and blue sites are my two personal favorites. Both are roughly 160 acres, very nearly square, allowing for plenty of room for expansion and plenty of options in the overall design of the campus. These are along Glendale Rd with Lovers Lane on the eastern border and the railroad tracks on the western border – which causes a problem for the yellow site and possibly even the blue site, per the GADOE site regulations. The area I’ve selected for the blue site actually includes land on both sides of Glendale RD, and my own thinking there is that the area to the south of the road could be used for the baseball/softball fields, and maybe even other sports – I’m not sure exactly how big that area is or exactly how much land these sports need. However, admittedly the road cutting across what I would call the “campus” does present problems which would need to be addressed.
By the way, the blue line through the middle of the picture is the dividing line between the current “east” and “west” zones used to determine who goes to which elementary schools. Just FYI there for those that didn’t know.
But that’s just my thoughts on the topic, what do y’all think?