DAYTON, Tenn. -- Construction of a new Rhea County High School could begin shortly as the county purchase and finance commission and school board have accepted a $30.9 million guaranteed maximum price for the project.
The school board approved its necessary resolution during its regular meeting Thursday, and the commission's resolution is expected to be considered during the commission's Sept. 20 meeting.
In a letter to the finance committee and distributed to school board members, Steve Hewlett, principal of Hewlett Spencer LLC, said, with the necessary approvals, "work shall begin upon receipt of the local building permit. The project shall be substantially complete on or before the start of the 2013 school year."
Hewlett told board members that the finance committee recommended the county commission sell $33 million in bonds to finance construction and to purchase some $1.7 million in furniture, fixtures and equipment for the new high school and the renovated existing high school and vocational buildings. Initially, Hewlett Spencer had estimated the project would come in at about $35 million.
Jerry Levengood, director of schools, said earlier this week that costs for "furniture, fixtures and equipment" would be around $1.7 million. He said the bid process for that could take 18 months.
Construction leaders plan to break ground on the new school this month and have estimated the projected completion date as August 2013.
In other matters, Levengood told board members that the county's buses are carrying their capacity loads of students, and the department could use another five to nine buses.
Board members approved a 1.6 percent salary increase for paraprofessional employees, to match the raise proposed in the new budget for teachers. In addition, they voted to extend Levengood's contract for a year, through 2014, and to raise his salary 2 percent.
Levengood asked board members to consider action to improve salaries for teachers in the middle years of the county's 20-step salary schedule.
"Several years ago we took steps to make the entry-level salaries attractive for new teachers," he said. "We take care of those pretty well, but when they [further] educate themselves, the salaries don't compare" with those in neighboring counties.
Board members also elected B.J. McCoy as chairman for the new year and Bill Davault as vice chairman.
Correspondent Kimberly McMillian contributed to this story.
Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.