Cleveland school board makes proposal to City Council

Cleveland school board makes proposal to City Council

September 13th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Hardwick Field

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - City school officials told the Cleveland City Council on Monday that the Hardwick Farms site on North Lee Highway is the best site for a new elementary school.

The city school board picked the site last week.

Murl Dirksen, the school board's site committee chairman, said negotiations will begin now with the property owners.

The owners plan to develop a residential and commercial community on the farm, and that alone could equal a new school, Dirksen said.

"Nobody has set a price yet," Dirksen said.

Martin Ringstaff, city schools director, said the system averages 100 new students each year. Because it takes about three years to build and open a new school, time is critical, he said.

"We are showing growth of 122 students this year," Ringstaff said.

The city has added 13 teachers over two years to meet state standards, he said.

"We have no place to go elementary school-wise," Ringstaff said.

Councilmen Dale Hughes and George Poe asked why the current airport, which is soon to close and is near Hardwick Farms, could not be used as a school site because it is city owned.

Ringstaff said the airport has access problems as a school site.

City officials are waiting to see what Bradley County does about the county school board's request for school construction funding. Any money raised by the county for school construction must be shared with the city, based on student population. That could amount to $12 million, or the cost of a new school, city officials said.

The county has not made a decision on school funding.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.