Hamilton County commissioners took another step to move a new Ooltewah Elementary School toward its Aug. 1, 2013, completion date.
On Thursday they approved Franklin Architects to design the school.
Commissioners voted 6-1, with two abstentions, in favor of the firm.
Later Thursday, the Hamilton County Board of Education voted 7-0 to approve hiring Franklin Architects for the project. Board members Joe Galloway and Everett Fairchild were absent.
Commissioner Fred Skillern said he couldn't support the project because of problems with Loftis Middle School, the last building Franklin Architects designed for the schools.
"I'd like to hold about $5,000 of their budget for water buckets, because if you go to Loftis, they need them," Skillern said. "It's leaked since we moved into it."
Commissioners Greg Beck, Jim Fields, Chester Bankston, Larry Henry, Warren Mackey and Tim Boyd voted to approve Franklin Architects. Skillern voted no, and Commissioners Mitch McClure and Joe Graham abstained.
Bob Franklin, president of the firm, said the group has been in business for three generations.
"Loftis does have leaks," Franklin said. "We don't think they were due to design. We live with our successes and our failures."
Franklin's firm was selected in a multistep process agreed to years ago by the county and schools.
A committee made up of Bankston, Board of Education Chairman Mike Evatt, a community member and county and schools staff whittled applicants down to three. Then County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Superintendent Rick Smith selected the finalist.
"We're just very pleased to have the opportunity to serve the school board and the county," Franklin said.