The former Dean Rusk Middle School campus has been renovated for use as the Sequoyah East annex to provide more capacity for adjacent Sequoyah High School.
The Cherokee County School Board joined the Superintendent of Schools on a tour of the newly renovated and opened Sequoyah East annex on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.
Sequoyah East, formerly the home of Dean Rusk Middle School, now is in use by students and staff from the adjacent Sequoyah High School, with further expansion plans slated for next school year.
With the opening of the new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School in August, the original Dean Rusk MS campus (built for 725 students with 45 classrooms and lab classrooms) was available for repurposing to provide Sequoyah HS additional space to reduce overcrowding and prepare for anticipated growth.
“Moving forward, this will be a great space for Sequoyah High School,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We’re really proud of it.”
In order to make this new use possible on the campus constructed in 1985 (with an addition constructed in 1990), it required some rehabilitation work, including:
• Installation of a new air-conditioning system in the gymnasium using a new external fabric duct system that avoided $50,000 in duct work costs (the same system next will be installed in the original Teasley MS gym now used by ACE Academy);
• Installation of a new phone system and new fiber optic lines for technology; all classrooms are outfitted with smart boards, computers and other technology;
• Repainting of walls and installation of new ceiling tiles;
• Installation of new flooring in the administration area using a vinyl tile product with minimal maintenance costs as a pilot project;
• Resurfacing of restroom floors and office and classroom cabinetry and countertops using new epoxy products as a pilot project, with a $10,000-plus cost avoidance versus replacement;
• Replacement of pedestal sinks and installation of new wall-hung fixtures that avoided more costly wall removal and replacement costs;
• Installation of new signage at the main entrance; and,
• Installation of a new school-wide LED lighting system sourced from a Holly Springs company (underway and to be completed by Spring Break)… reducing power usage for lighting by 80% to 112 amps – the first such system for a CCSD school and a significant cost savings!
Additionally, a newly installed covered walkway creates a safe route for students and staff between Sequoyah East and the main Sequoyah HS campus. Construction of an internal drive system allows for the separation of cars and buses and ingress/egress between the schools without entering Hickory Road or East Cherokee Drive.
CCSD Maintenance staff completed the work, with some support from vendors for renovation work; Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds covered the $500,000 in costs.
The “facelift,” according to Maintenance Director Ronald Barnes and Facility Technician Brian McDonough, who led the project, not only freshened up the facility, but also improved operating efficiency and allows them to test new products for possible use districtwide.
“They’ve done a phenomenal job,” Bill Sebring, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management, said of his staff. “They transformed the space to where you wouldn’t know the building is over 30 years old.”
School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and Board members were impressed by the improvements.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” she said. “I appreciate all you have done… the economical choices, using local suppliers. Thank you!”
After gathering input from the school community, Sequoyah HS students began using the Sequoyah East annex this semester:
• Current classes now served at Sequoyah East include: World Languages (Latin, French and Spanish II), the Teacher Cadet program and several core academic classes (Social Studies – 4 teachers, Math – 3 teachers and English – 2 teachers). As a result of opening Sequoyah East, the school was able to eliminate the need for teachers to “float” between classrooms, as well as reduce the number of teachers housed in mobile classrooms; and,
• Future plans for 2017-18 include moving Junior ROTC classes to the facility, as well as relocating additional core academic classes and beginning use of the cafeteria to reduce overcrowding on the main campus. If Sequoyah High adds new Career Pathways course offerings for 2018-19, those classes also likely would be housed at Sequoyah East.
The response to Sequoyah East, Principal Elliott Berman said, has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The kids are amazed,” he said, noting Assistant Principal Matthew May’s office is housed at Sequoyah East to provide administrative oversight there. “They’ve said, ‘It didn’t look like this when we were at Dean Rusk.’”
Facility Technician Brian McDonough shows an LED light fixture to School Board members, from left to right, Kelly Poole, Chair Kyla Cromer and Clark Menard. The fixtures were purchased locally from a Holly Springs company.
Maintenance Director Ronald Barnes, left, explains the benefits of LED lighting in the school, which is the first CCSD facility to completely transition to the cost-efficient lighting– which is expected to cut amperage usage by 80%. Listening are, from left to right, Principal Elliott Berman, Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.
Bill Sebring, Assistant Superintendent for Support Service and Facilities/Construction Management, stands in the lighter and brighter lobby of Sequoyah East at the former Dean Rusk MS and explains enhancements including more cost-efficient lighting.
The gym has been updated with a new air-conditioning system, which was added through the use of ceiling-mounted fabric ducts, which avoided $50,000 in duct work costs. The same technique is being considered for the former Teasley Middle School gym, currently in use by ACE Academy.
The front office has been rehabilitated with lighter colors including fresh paint, low-maintenance vinyl floors and an epoxy coating on cabinets and countertops — at a fraction of the cost of replacement.