Auburn City Schools will open its 13th campus in August as a response to growth in the elementary student population.

Creekside Elementary, which will be located at 1800 Richland Road, is on schedule and on budget, said ACS Public Relations Specialist Daniel Chesser.

Progress is very visible and evident from the road," Chesser said. "We have had a lot of rain, but have been able to stay on task and soldier through that."

The school has a budget of approximately $14 million and will initially house grades second and third while Richland Elementary School houses kindergarten and first grade, and Yarbrough Elementary School will accommodate grades four and five.

The longterm plan is for Richland and Creekside to be sister schools, with Richland housing K-2 and Creekside housing third through fifth grades. Yarbrough would then go back to housing grades three through five and would be paired with another elementary school, which Chesser anticipates being built as soon as possible once ACS acquires land for the sister school.

"The need is greater at the elementary level to accommodate students than at the secondary level," he said. "What you'll see at the elementary levels is you want roughly 550 to 600 kids (at each school) and we're reaching that at each of our campuses."

Creekside will have a layout modeled after Pick Elementary, which opened in 2013. Upon entering, there will be the main office and a media center/library, from which will stem four hallways leading to classrooms. The back of the building will contain the kitchens and a multi-purpose room.

"That's the model that we feel is most effective for that age group of children," Chesser said. "Richland (Elementary School) is also very similar to that layout."

While construction of the school moves forward, ACS staff are working to select a principal for Creekside as well as hire teachers and staff to work within the school.

A principal is expected to be named at the ACS Board of Education meeting on March 20.

"That particular person can then get in place and start planning for the new year," Chesser said.

Chesser added that some teachers will likely move to Creekside from Richland and Yarbrough, but new teachers are expected to be hired as well.

"Dr. Jason Lowe, our Human Resources director, is constantly traveling around doing recruitment, so while he's recruiting, he's putting special emphasis on staffing that particular school," he said. "Then, you'll also have some teachers that will turn in their letters of intent saying they would like to work there. You'll have a good mix of existing and new (teachers) at that campus."

The school has a capacity of 600 students, and if ACS works to keep 25 to 30 within a class, that would mean about 25-30 teachers will be employeed at Creekside.

ACS administration will also work to finalize bus routes as the start of the new school year gets closer. Chesser said that students who live within two miles of the new campus will have the option to walk, ride a bike or be driven by their parents to school since buses do not stop at homes within two miles of a school. Those who will be eligible to take the bus will be notified of the routes.

Chesser said the city has done a good job at creating wide sidewalks along Richland Road to accommodate walkers.

"You do see a lot of walkers," he said. "Richland (Elementary) has made great efforts to do Walk to School days. That's where the principal and several teachers will meet in one of the neighborhoods along Richland Road, and they'll have parents, students, teachers and staff all walk to school. It does a good service to show people that walking to school is not out of the question. It is safe and is an option for students."

He said that school will likely be in session at Creekside from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Once the school is complete, some sort of grand opening ceremony may be held, but Chesser said that those who will be attending the school will have ample opportunities to visit it before class starts.

"You'll have your open houses, your curriculum nights, your Meet Your Teacher nights, so there will be plenty of opportunities for the students and their parents to familiarize themselves with the campus," he said.

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