published Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

School board looking at North Cleveland site

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The next new city elementary school could be on North Lee Highway at Hardwick Farm across from Dollar General.

The Cleveland School Board approved Tuesday a recommendation that Dr. Martin Ringstaff, city schools director, begin negotiations for the purchase of 16 to 18 acres. It is one of two sites considered by the board for months.

The board wants the plan to be on the next City Council agenda and to talk with the Bradley County Commission's Education Committee.

The board also heard that city schools' student population is growing, some schools have lost space devoted to music and art education and that six buses make double runs each day.

Ringstaff said seven additional teachers were hired this year to meet Tennessee Basic Education Program limits. A reception for all the 29 new city teachers was held before the meeting.

The city school system ended the last school year with a June enrollment of 4,911. The September enrollment is 5,130.

"The anticipated growth we thought was coming, is here," board member Steve Morgan said.

There have been no negotiations on selling the land yet with The Rodgers Group, board members said. There have been talks with city officials on funding. The Rodgers Group has indicated it plans a residential and commercial development on Hardwick Farm.

"We felt we needed to come to a conclusion as a school board before we start any negotiations," Ringstaff told the board.

Board member Richard Shaw noted a new city school would be a selling point for the developers. He said that should be considered in any negotiations.

"I hope the negotiations will be favorable to the school system," said board Chairwoman Peggy Pesterfield.

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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