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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ Students walk through the halls of Tyner Academy. Tyner Academy Principal Gerald Harris gave the Times Free Press a tour of the school's facilities on December 6, 2019.

The Hamilton County Commission has approved a resolution to issue up to $90 million in bonds that will finance school projects and other public works, including a new middle/high school building for Tyner Academy.

The bonds will be repaid using money collected through county property taxes.

"I wanted to say to the commission thank you so much for making Tyner middle/high school a reality today. As you well know, without the funding, schools don't get built. So congratulations. I'm sure the students are elated at the school to hear that today and so congratulations for that," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger told the commission Wednesday.

Construction of the new Tyner middle/high school will cost between $65 million and $70 million, according to Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Justin Robertson.

A large portion of that cost will be covered by the use of $25 million provided to the district through the third round of coronavirus relief funding, passed by Congress in March with no Republican votes. The school board approved using the relief funds in August.

One requirement of using the federal funds for that purpose is that the new school must be complete and open for learning by August 2024, and in an effort to streamline the process, the board also approved moving forward with hiring an architect for the project, which ultimately must be approved by the county commission.

The district in October will present a recommendation to the commission for an architect who will advise the district on next steps and final costs, schools spokesperson Cody Patterson said.

The 400 building, which houses Tyner's Freshman Academy, sustained water leaks from the roof, leading to its closure the day before the first day of school for the fall semester.

Seniors at Tyner walked out of school in August to protest the conditions of the building, and three seniors later addressed both the Hamilton County Board of Education and the commission at their August meetings.

The students described the difficulties their learning environment created for themselves and teachers, with mold on the walls, the leaking roof and teachers having to move between classrooms, making them feel unsafe and stressed.

A 2019 facilities report from MGT Consulting Group determined Tyner Middle Academy had the second-lowest building condition score in the district at 44%, while Tyner High School's building condition score was 57%.

Contact Anika Chaturvedi at achaturvedi@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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