Norris Middle School completes expansion

Ribbon-cutting planned Wednesday; new road opens

Traffic comes out the new exit road from behind Norris Middle School onto West Norris Road during school drop-off time on Tuesday morning, Aug. 1. (photo:G Chambers Williams III )
Norris Middle School students this week are coming into a newly expanded school building, and their parents are using a new road for exiting the school onto West Norris Road.

The school’s principal, Dr. Rob Cummings, said that the first day of school – with a staggered start that included only sixth-graders on Monday – went well, and that he’s expecting that to be the same when all three grades are in attendance.

Included in the school’s $4 million expansion was the new connector behind the building that funnels traffic coming in off East Norris Road down the hill onto West Norris Road, behind Loy Johnson’s real estate office.

“We used it today,” Cummings said Monday afternoon. “In the mornings, buses come in as normal to the bus circle. But car riders come to the rear of the school and egress onto West Norris [in a one-way flow]. It flowed very smoothly this morning.

“Thursday will be the real test when all the parents are back,” he said. “We would expect to see about 280 to 300 vehicles daily. Thursday everyone will be back.”

The ribbon-cutting for the expanded school area will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and Anderson County Director of Schools Tim Parrott is expected to be on hand for the event, Cummings said.

This project, which began construction last September, added six classrooms, a training/conference room, an office for the dean of students, and bathrooms, Cummings said.

Each classroom has about 600 square feet of space, he added.

“We got our certificate of occupancy last week,” Cummings said, which was the final step before the school could begin using the new space.

Besides the new exit road at the rear, the project also created 74 new parking spaces, he said.

Norris Middle School had 487 students “at last count” this week, the principal said.

The new classrooms are intended to handle projected growth at the school over the next several years as new subdivisions open in its service area.

Anderson County Schools told the Norris Planning Commission last year that it would spend $400,000 to extend the road behind the school to allow traffic to flow out onto West Norris Road when school kids are dropped off and picked up.

The road extension had been sought by Norris officials and was agreed to last year by now former City Manager Scott Hackler.

Parrott said last year that it was the city that approached the school system about the road extension, which is expected to alleviate heavy traffic flowing from all of the drop-off and pickup vehicles coming into the school from East Norris Road and then going back out the same way.

With the new road, traffic now flows into the rear of the school off the traffic circle on East Norris Road, and exits onto West Norris. There, traffic can turn left and head toward Norris Freeway, or right and head back toward Andersonville Highway (Tenn. 61) or Reservoir Road.

The Norris Middle School building was constructed 85 years ago, and previously was used as Norris High School.