published Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Cleveland eyes property for elementary school

  • photo
    Cleveland property eyed for school
    Illustration by Laura McNutt

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Education officials reviewed a 19-acre Georgetown Pike property as a possible site for the city's next elementary school.

On Wednesday, the Cleveland school board's Site Committee voted to recommend that the whole board consider spending $1.1 million for the property in North Cleveland.

The site is between Cleveland Middle and Hopewell Elementary schools, just west of the intersection with Paul Huff Parkway.

Several school board members said the offer compared favorably with a year-old offer of $750,000 for a 15-acre site at Hardwick Farms on North Lee Highway. The Georgetown Pike site's cost includes earthmoving. It will cost extra at the Hardwick Farms tract, which is expected to push the cost past $1 million.

"[The Georgetown Pike property is] readily available, it's comparable in price, the location is good and there are no restrictions on it for the board," board member Steve Morgan said.

Hardwick Farms' restrictions include the right for the heirs of the property, the Stuart family, to approve of the elementary school name, officials said. The property doesn't have a deed, which means it could revert to the sellers under certain conditions.

Whichever site officials choose, they'll have to worry about money. Some administrators are hoping the Cleveland City Council will provide the borrowing power for the $12 million to $15 million construction cost.

"From the last time we visited, they seemed aggressive enough to understand that we have to do something quick," said Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools.

Recent litigation between the city and county may result in some contested sales tax revenues in city school coffers, as well. Leaders could discuss using revenues linked to a city sales tax increase in 2009 -- earmarked for capital maintenance expenses -- to buy land.

"This is our community, we need to fund [the school]," board member Dawn Robinson said. "We can't rely on federal or state funds to pay for our needs."

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