published Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Bradley County Schools outline needs to handle growth

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    Staff Photo by Randall Higgins Bradley County School Board and staff presented the immediate and long term needs they see for county schools Tuesday to the County Commission's Education and Finance Committees which will consider funding.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A third middle school and land for two elementary schools are two of the urgent needs for Bradley County schools to keep up with anticipated growth, system leaders say.

Those issues and several others were presented Tuesday by the County School Board to two County Commission committees.

Even without population growth created by industrial development from Wacker Chemical, Olin Corp., Whirlpool, Amazon and Volkswagen, county schools already are near -- and in some cases over -- capacity, according to a presentation from Sharon Harper, county schools director of research and development, and Dan Glasscock, secondary education supervisor.

The most-urgent need is a third county middle school, members of the County Finance and County Education committees were told. But an aging heating and air conditioning system at Lake Forest Middle School, a crowded Walker Valley High School and land for two more elementary schools are causing concerns too, school board members and staff said.

"If we don't address the building needs now, I will be coming to you requesting money for portables [classrooms]," Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel told commissioners.

The two committees plan to meet Friday to consider the school system's presentation, said Education Committee Chairman Jeff Yarber.

"Can we come up with the money? I don't know," Yarber said. "But we would be remiss to not seriously consider these issues."

Board and commission members also plan to tour Lake Forest Middle School and Walker Valley High School on Feb. 23.

Beyond the money, school building needs are about academics, Glasscock said.

"We have got to get our kids ready for college and for careers," he said.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

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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