School board chair defends expensive new school

New North Atlanta High transformed from office building to school

When North Atlanta High School opens its doors to students Wednesday, they’ll find their new school rises 11 stories high and features a built-in auditorium, gym, rifle range and robotics lab.

The school is located in a former IBM office building about a half-mile from Cobb County’s Chattahoochee River border. It replaces the school’s Buckhead location, which had reached capacity.

Cost: $82.6 million for new construction and renovation, $8.8 million for athletic facilities, $55.3 million for property acquisition

Principal: Howard E. Taylor, previously principal at Gwinnett’s Lilburn Middle School

Number of students: 1,650 initially, with enrollment expected to grow to 2,400 in about five years

Number of staff: 97 teachers and support, 22 administration

Security: About 428 cameras installed. Two metal detectors initially, and two more when the school’s Assembly Building opens in January.

Layout: The first floor houses Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps classes and the robotics lab. The second floor is the public entrance, with administration offices and a media center. The third floor includes the cafeteria and the 600-seat auditorium. Each grade level and academy will occupy two floors:

  • The ninth grade and the Center for Arts, floors 4 and 5.
  • The 10th grade and the Center for Business & Marketing, floors 6 and 7.
  • The 11th grade and the Center for International Studies, floors 8 and 9.
  • The 12th grade and the Center for Broadcast & Journalism, floors 10 and 11.

Getting around: Staircases connect each grade level’s two floors, and a central staircase provides access to every floor. Eleven elevators also may be used, with access controlled by school staff.

Athletic facilities: A football/soccer field, track, three tennis courts, a baseball field and a softball field

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