CLEVELAND, Tenn. - High school arts and sciences classes here have new homes ready to open for the 2012 school year.
Bradley Central High School's Fine Arts Center is complete. Cleveland High School's new science center also is finished and is awaiting a ribbon cutting when school begins.
Both the Cleveland and Bradley County school boards say they have saved millions of dollars by being ready to begin construction at a time when contractors needed the work. Both also got a boost from voters who approved separate city and county sales tax increases two years ago.
"The project came in on budget, I believe under budget. And we, of course, came in on time," said Casson Conn of TriConn Construction, the general building contractor for the fine arts project.
"In my humble opinion, we got good value and we were really able to seize the market when it was really hungry," Conn said.
Todd Shumaker, Bradley Central principal, said there will be an open house after school begins to introduce the new fine arts center. The date is yet to be announced.
"We want the kids to be a part of it," he said.
Across town, Cleveland High School's science center is ready for its August open house.
City school board Chairwoman Peggy Pesterfield said it will be an evening ceremony to show off the outdoor plaza area and to beat the midday heat.
But the sun generating that heat also is helping the school manage its power costs.
The science building has "solar panels now," said Paul Ramsey, the city schools energy conservation director. "So we are now producing electricity, too, and hope to sell some of it back to Cleveland Utilities or TVA."
Attention to environmental and energy needs was part of the specifications for the building. Outside, the school's irrigation system is installed but landscaping still is to be done.
"We had an issue with dirt that was brought in," Ramsey said. "It was supposed to be good topsoil. We are having that replaced."
For the Bradley Central project, the county school board saved money for several years, then got a boost from voters who approved a half-cent local sales tax increase two years ago. Half of that money goes to schools.
At Cleveland, the city school board was able to budget half the science center's cost from a half-cent local sales tax approved by city voters. The other half came from state funding.
And at both schools, the new buildings help free up space in existing facilities for other classrooms. At Bradley, space now is available elsewhere for ROTC, among other programs. At Cleveland, the space now is available for arts classes.