LAWRENCEVILLE - Mulberry Elementary School Principal Vivian Stranahan is excited to start the new year.
She's in charge of opening up one of Gwinnett County's new elementary schools, which is filled with new materials and experienced teachers coming together in a new way, she said.
"I'm at a point where I'm just anxious to get the kids in here," she said. "Schools are not supposed to be empty."
The school won't be empty long, as 555 children are expected to walk through the doors Monday, the first day of school. Throughout the district, 159,258 students are expected to enroll this year.
The opening of Mulberry, Lovin and Patrick elementary schools kicks off "The Plan," the district's timeline for getting its building needs in check by 2014. The three new elementary schools are helping to relieve overcrowding at nearby elementary schools, and 12 new schools will be opened in the next two years.
A replacement facility for the Oakland School, called the Oakland Meadow School, is also opening this year. The building serves special needs students and houses many services for special education teachers throughout the district.
Gwinnett's first charter schools are also opening Monday.
The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology will open with 203 ninth-grade students who will study bioscience, engineering and emerging technologies. The school will add a grade every year until it serves ninth- through 12th-grades.
The county's first start-up charter school, the New Life Academy of Excellence, is also ready to teach the 236 students who will attend kindergarten to third grade. The school was created to teach children the Chinese language and culture, with hopes that the skills will help the students succeed in a global business economy.
"The excitement of the teachers and the energy level is amazing," said Sonya D. Jones, the school's human resources director. "I really think this is a milestone in the history of Gwinnett County."
SideBar: New and future schools
Opening in 2007
' Lovin Elementary School,
1705 New Hope Road, Lawrenceville
' Mulberry Elementary School,
442 E. Union Grove Circle, Auburn
' Patrick Elementary School
2707 Kilgore Road, Buford
' Oakland Meadow School,
590 Old Snellville Highway, Lawrenceville (replaces the Oakland School)
' Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, to be housed initially in Duluth High School, 3737 Brock Road, Duluth
New Life Academy of Excellence, 3159 Campus Drive, Suite 100, Norcross
Opening in 2008
' Trip Elementary School,
841 Cooper Road, Grayson
' Puckett's Mill Elementary School,
2442 S. Pucketts Mill Road, Dacula
' Rosebud Elementary,
4151 Rosebud Road, Loganville
' Benefield Elementary School,
1221 Old Norcross Road, Lawrenceville
Opening in 2009
' North Gwinnett Middle School,
160 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Sugar Hill
' White Oak Elementary School,
6442 Suwanee Dam Road, Buford
' Archer High School,
2255 New Hope Road, Lawrenceville
' Mountain View High School
2351 Sunny Hill Road, Lawrenceville
' Twin Rivers Middle School
Braselton Highway, Buford
' Starling Elementary School
1725 Grayson Highway, Grayson
' Bay Creek Middle School
821 Cooper Road, Grayson
' Couch Middle School
1777 Grayson Highway, Grayson
' Woodward Mill Elementary School
2020 Buford Drive, Lawrenceville
' Lanier Middle School
6482 Suwanee Dam Road, Buford
' Dyer Elementary School
1707 Hurricane Shoals Road, Lawrenceville