Walker Valley High School revamp to begin soon

Walker Valley High School revamp to begin soon

July 2nd, 2013 by Paul Leach in Local - Breaking News

Walker Valley High School is located at 750 Lauderdale Memorial Hwy. in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A project involving a new storm-resistant, eight-classroom pod, more cafeteria space and improved security is expected to begin soon at Walker Valley High School.

"We are awaiting final approval from the state fire marshal's office," said consultant Angie Lyon of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris Architects Inc. of Knoxville. "We expect it will come pretty quick."

The Bradley County Board of Education approved a $1.49 million bid by Tri-Con Construction of Cleveland for the projects in May. The classroom pod, which will be built to resist winds reaching 200 miles per hour, will cost $1.218 million. Extra space for cafeteria seating amounts to $243,700, and a secured vestibule entrance will cost $27,000.

Lyon said the project received bids from six contractors, with about $250,000 separating the lowest and highest bids. The tight spread gave her confidence in the accuracy of the bids, she said.

The Walker Valley projects ultimately will cost about $1.7 million, said Rick Smith, business manager for Bradley County Schools. The extra costs are associated with design and contingency fees and will be paid from the school system's 2013-14 capital outlay budget.

The classroom pod will receive $1.2 million in hazard mitigation funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which requires a $300,000 local match.

The cafeteria and pod are intended to address overcrowding at the high school, which was designed for 1,200 students but now enrolls about 1,500, education officials said.

The eight-classroom pod actually was conceived as a 16-classroom pod, Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel recently told the county school board. However, the plan had to change to meet available funding, with the FEMA money proving critical.

Education officials also hope to launch a comprehensive $14 million makeover for Lake Forest Middle School no later than July 1, 2015.

The county school board recently made an offer of a $1 million contribution to the renovations if the Bradley County Commission will commit to a funding plan by July 1, 2014, and construction start no more than a year after that.

The proposal calls for construction of a 57-classroom building to replace the campus' smaller classroom pods, which make up more than half of the 17 buildings spread over Lake Forest's 75-acre campus. If geotechnical surveys prove favorable, the school also may incorporate a geothermal field.

The renovations are expected to generate energy savings and head off $6 million in repairs needed for leaks and drainage and for replacement of aging air conditioning systems, school officials said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.