Bradley County school reconstruction and demolition project priorities weighed

Bradley County school reconstruction and demolition project priorities weighed

April 14th, 2012 by Paul Leach in News

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

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse/Times Free Press.

WHAT'S NEXT


The Bradley County school board will meet nestat the county schools' central office on May 1 at 4:30 p.m.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Even as Bradley County Schools wraps up major reconstruction and demolition projects, education officials are considering what construction project takes priority next.

Consultant David Brown of KBJM Architects made recommendations to the county school board Thursday regarding federal grant applications for three capital projects: renovations to Lake Forest Middle School, an eight-classroom pod for Walker Valley High School and a new elementary school in southern Bradley County.

Brown told the board that all three hazard-mitigating construction grants, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were approved. However, funding would be available for only one of the projects at this time.

"For the moment, we've kind of landed on Walker Valley High School," Brown said. "The reason for that is you get a lot more bang for your buck, I guess."

The FEMA grant will cover much of the construction costs, leaving the school system with a 12.5 percent match, Brown said. Even that, he said, might be reduced because grant funding is based on estimates, not actual bids.

The grant, partly based on the number of students protected by any disaster-resistant construction, earned more benefits for the Walker Valley project, Brown said.

An added bonus would be that the Walker Valley project, which had been scaled down, might be restored to its original vision of a 16-classroom pod and additional cafeteria space, said Johnny McDaniel, director of Bradley County Schools.

"It just seems like, for the use of the funding, we would get a lot in return," McDaniel said.

Board member Troy Weathers questioned the recommendation, saying the board previously had voted to make the repairs to Lake Forest Middle School its top priority.

Weathers asked Brown what timeframe could be expected for the FEMA grant for Lake Forest Middle School if that project was put on hold for the Walker Valley project.

Funding for the FEMA hazard mitigation grant is driven by disasters in the state and is a portion of money the agency spends, Brown said.

The school board agreed to review the FEMA grant recommendation further before voting on the matter.

Officials also discussed the status of the reconstructed gymnasium for Michigan Avenue Elementary School and the demolition of Blue Springs Elementary School. Both campuses were damaged by the April 2011 storms.

The Michigan Avenue gymnasium is expected to be completed toward the end of the month, said contractor Casey Conn of Tricon Inc. Crews recently placed hardwood floors in the gymnasium, and soon will paint them in school colors, he said.

The demolition of Blue Springs Elementary's main building, which began this week, will be completed soon, said Angie Lyon of KBJM Architects.