Facility to enhance progress

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology has been open for less than a year, but the charter school is already showing promise of becoming one of the best schools in the state.

According to unofficial test results, students scored an average of 15 points higher last semester than any other school in the state on the End of Course Test in advanced geometry, said Banks Bitterman, the school's principal. While most schools offer geometry as a year-long course, Bitterman said the charter school's students took it in one semester.

"I think the expectations here are incredibly high, and the level of the curriculum and the rigor of the curriculum is extremely intense," Bitterman said, adding that students who are held to high expectations perform well.

Bitterman, who has invested about 100 hours per week in the school since it opened, said a permanent facility for the school, set to open in 2010, will provide the students with a foundation for more success.

The school's current students will be seniors when the new facility opens on McElvaney Lane in Lawrenceville, next to the Maxwell High School of Technology. The new campus will have state-of-the-art technology, which is imperative for a school teaching engineering, bioscience and emerging technology, Bitterman said.

The school will also have project rooms, which will give the faculty more flexibility in their instructional strategies and provide students with a chance to collaborate as they would in the real world, Bitterman said.

The charter school's new building will have 257,385 square feet, said Jim Steele, the school district's chief operating officer. Another 100,000 square feet of existing space - Benefield Elementary's current building and the Oakland School's former building - will be renovated, he said.

When construction is complete, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology will have 365,000 square feet, and Maxwell High School of Technology will have 101,000 square feet, Steele said.

Gwinnett County Public Schools will begin taking bids this week for the construction of the facility, said Sloan Roach, the spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

The school district, which strives to take the lowest bid, anticipates taking a recommendation to the Gwinnett County Board of Education in April, Roach said.