published Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Cleveland board steps up search for site to add more school space

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — It is time to speed up preparations for another elementary school, Cleveland City Schools officials said Wednesday.

Dr. Martin Ringstaff, city schools director, said he has met with Johnny McDaniel, county schools director, about county discussions to pay for a new county elementary school and an academic building at Lake Forest Middle School.

The county's plan would require an estimated $26 million. Any money the county raises for public education must be shared with the city school system based on student population.

Ringstaff told the city schools committee he wants a property acquisition timeline in place by the end of the year.

Committee Chairman Murl Dirksen and board member Steve Morgan said the city school system should continue its own discussions with the Cleveland City Council, too.

"Regardless of what Bradley County does, we need to move forward," Dirksen said.

"They are trying to replace a school, and we are looking at building more space,'' said Morgan.

The county school system lost Blue Springs Elementary School to the April 27 tornadoes. The school system's plans already included building another south side elementary school before the storms came.

The county schools' student population is between 10,000 and 11,000. The city school system has been hovering around 5,000 the past several years.

Ringstaff said Wednesday that Mayfield Elementary is starting the new school year with 85 more students, an indication of student population growth systemwide.

Board members were asked to consider potential sites before the committee meets again next week.

Dirksen said the city's "most immediate" need is another school on Cleveland's north side.

On another front, the ceiling, asbestos and seats were removed during the summer from Cleveland High School's theater, said Paul Ramsey, energy manager for the city school system. The theater is ready for renovation now, he said.

"They want to know when it will be usable again," Ramsey said.

Ringstaff said he will get some planning ideas from high school Principal Autumn O'Bryan to include in a new capital improvements list.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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