Plan Calls for Hundreds More Students at Athens Middle School

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A plan to add a 7,200 square foot addition, and 200 more students to Athens Middle School was discussed at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.  The plan is the latest option in a master plan to upgrade the school’s facilities.

Potential Cost

The proposal calls for moving all Athens City School’s sixth graders into the middle school at a cost of about a $4.5 million.  An alternative plan would move those students into The Plains Elementary School. That option would cost about a $7 million, according to Mike Dingeldein of Community Design Alliance, the architectural firm helping to evaluate the options.

The state’s standards for square footage per student is a driving concern for where to put the city’s sixth graders.  The state requires middle schools to have 151 square feet per student. Buildings over, or under, that number would result in less money to complete the plan.

Athens City School School Board of Education allows 30 minutes of public participation during their meetings. The public is invited to their next meeting, March 8.

“Frankly, there’s no penalty for putting all the sixth graders at the middle school, because the penalties for the mandatory oversize space are fairly great,” Dingeldein said. “To the district tax payers, it is more cost effective to put the sixth graders at the middle school.”

Dingeldein said the plans to renovate the Plains Elementary School would be unaffected by the location of the sixth graders.


Athens Middle School currently hosts approximately 400 seventh and eighth graders. By adding the sixth grade, the student population would total around 600 students. This raised concerns from the board about having enough teachers and programs for the extra students.

Superintendent Dr. Thomas Gibbs said it is a matter of moving faculty to best serve the students.

Superintendent Dr. Thomas Gibbs answers a question from the board.

“We’re not adding 200 students to the district, we’re changing the location of 200 students,” he said. “We have one guidance counselor for 600 kids, it’s probably a stretch, but we have guidance counselors now that are assigned to the sixth grade in the elementary setting.”

The board will hold another meeting March 8 to continue discussion of the master plan and hear public comments.