published Friday, September 7th, 2012

Cleveland Board of Education evaluates school upkeep

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    Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cleveland Board of Education is juggling a number of maintenance and safety concerns for several city schools.

At a recent special city school board meeting, Arnold Elementary, Cleveland Middle and Cleveland High schools took center stage regarding upkeep matters.

Air conditioning replacement at the high school has fallen behind its Aug. 1 deadline, Paul Ramsey, energy education specialist for Cleveland City Schools, told the board.

However, Ramsey said, the project is nearing completion and the contractor has been paying a $225 penalty each day the work continues past the month-old deadline.

While crews were installing ductwork for the new air-conditioning system, they discovered some "integrity" problems with an interior wall, Ramsey said. He described the needed reinforcement as a "relatively easy fix."

The field tracks for Cleveland Middle and High schools will need replacing within a year or two, according to school maintenance officials. The twin projects have been put on hold for the time being, said Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools.

"The school board has tabled replacing the tracks for now, which will cost about $50,000," Ringstaff said. "We are waiting until our funds build back up again since we just replaced Cleveland High School's HVAC system."

The Cleveland Middle School field track is about a dozen years old, but the high school track — which is only 6 years old — needs as much attention, education officials said. Public access to the high school track, which is located next to the city's greenway, has caused accelerated wear and tear, they said.

Plans to revitalize the Arnold Elementary School athletic field sparked considerable debate among education board members.

The field poses an unsightly hazard, said board member Murl Dirksen, who described it as barren ground with rocks and holes.

"Somebody's going to get hurt," Dirksen said. "The kids don't have a grassy area."

Ramsey said it will cost $9,500 to properly irrigate the field.

However, good irrigation would not mean that grass would thrive in the rocky field, board member Dawn Robinson said.

Even if the irrigation system was a success, there would be an associated water bill cost to maintain the effort, Robinson said. She recommended putting the money toward a priority facility need.

The board agreed to consult with Dan Hartman, the city's urban forester, before making any decisions.

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