Ground broken for new Ooltewah Elementary School

Ground broken for new Ooltewah Elementary School

November 27th, 2012 by Kevin Hardy in News

Tom Arnold, principal of Ooltewah Elementary School, speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Ooltewah Elementary Tuesday. Construction has been underway for several months will be the largest elementary school building in the county once opened in August.

Photo by Allison Love/Times Free Press.

A new Ooltewah Elementary School will serve as a focal point of the community, local officials said Tuesday.

School, county and construction leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday at the school site, which has been under construction for several months. The $21 million building could eventually house as many as 1,100 students, drawing enrollment from the current school and the soon-to-be-closed Birchwood Elementary as well as relieving overcrowding at Snow Hill Elementary.

The Ooltewah school, located at the foot of White Oak Mountain, is on a fast track to open by August.

"When this thing's finished, I think it's going to be one of the most beautiful school sites we have in Hamilton County," said schools Superintendent Rick Smith.

When it's completed, the school will be the county's largest elementary building, with about 40 classrooms, two gymnasiums and 136,000 square feet of space.

"It's really the epicenter of the Ooltewah community," said Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the school is just one example of the county's focus on education. Aside from Ooltewah, a new Red Bank Middle will come online in August and architects are now designing plans for a replacement East Brainerd Elementary.

"What does that say about Hamilton County's commitment to education?" he asked. "I think it speaks volumes."

Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy a khardy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.