Rhea County school officials eye new football field and track

Rhea County school officials eye new football field and track

January 22nd, 2012 by Tom Davis/Correspondent in News

Cracked pavement and protruding grass mar the track at Rhea County High School in Evensville, Tenn. Photo by Kimberly McMillian

DAYTON, Tenn. -- The Rhea County school board is pursuing proposals to build a new football field and track at Rhea County High School and expects to learn this week what the project might cost.

"We're getting closer and closer to decision time, and we've met with a lot of companies," Director of Schools Jerry Levengood said. "Some do only tracks, some do only turf. We're asking since TenCate is a local company that their fiber be used on the field. We've asked [county Finance Director Bill] Graham to find out what it would cost us to borrow $800,000 for the work."

Levengood said that in discussions with various suppliers, school officials have been told redoing the field and track would cost between $800,000 and more than $1 million, so he asked for an estimate of the cost of borrowing the lesser amount.

At the same time, he said, when the actual project is bid, it would have to be bid as a whole, without considering any donation of materials that might be expected to lower the ultimate cost.

Graham said he expects the finance committee to open quotes on financing this week, and he expects interest rates "should be good." He told board members that "if you deem this necessary, we can make it happen" financially.

Levengood said, "We have to know the interest rate and payback to make good decisions, and the time is upon us."

Steve Hewlett, president of Hewlett Spencer, the firm managing construction of the high school, offered his company's services under the existing construction contract to consult on the track and field development project.

Board members agreed to pursue the project, determine costs and to discuss arrangements with Hewlett Spencer.

Also last week, the department of education administration honored its board members. At the same time, they recognized 37 county teachers who scored the highest -- a "5" -- on the basis of their students' value-added assessments this past school year.

Levengood pointed out that in math, Rhea County's public schools rank in the top 10 percent of Tennessee schools for students' value-added achievement.

Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at tsdavis@volstate.net.