CANTON — The Cherokee County Board of Education has approved the $7.7 million purchase of 88-acres that could see Cherokee High School move from the west side of Canton to the east side later this decade.
When the current building at 930 Marietta Highway opened in the 1950s, Cherokee High was the only high school in Cherokee County, which had a population of less than 25,000 at the time. Since then, five other high schools, along with new middle and elementary schools have been built as the county population has grown by more than 10 times to nearly 270,000 today.
The land is north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and adjacent to the current Teasley Middle School campus in Canton’s Riverstone area. The $87,500 per acre cost is to be paid for with current Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money, according to school system Chief Communications Officer, Barbara Jacoby. The purchase was approved at the school board meeting on Thursday night.
The Board of Education would have to approve construction of the school and the $90-$100 million cost would be financed by an Ed SPLOST extension if voters approve it next November, Jacoby said. If the funding is approved, construction could begin in 2023 and be completed in 2026.
Superintendent Brian V. Hightower shared at the meeting that the new property has been approved by the state as a school site, and that the project would be eligible for state school construction funding, which would decrease the Ed SPLOST money needed.
“We’re very excited about the potential for this project,” Hightower said.
Cherokee High School’s current campus on Marietta Highway is both the oldest and the largest in the system. The high school, which serves 2,850 students, has seen its enrollment jump by more than 25% in the past decade, Jacoby said.
If construction of a new Cherokee High School campus is approved, the school board could opt to reopen the former Canton Elementary School, which became a part of the high school to alleviate crowding, Jacoby said. The main high school campus could be repurposed, possibly as a magnet school or special program such as a career and technical education center, she said.