The Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday approved a $4.3 million contract for the design of a new school to replace Tyner middle and high schools.
Commissioners approved a contract with MBI Companies Inc. to design a single building that would merge two schools that have been described as being in poor condition by officials.
"They are in horrific shape," said Commissioner Katherlyn Geter, D-Woodmore, whose district includes the schools, after the meeting. "It's been long overdue for us to get a new school. It's always the hope to save the old buildings and renovate, but that's not the case."
Jerry Isaksen, principal architect at MBI Companies, called the schools dilapidated in a Wednesday phone interview.
Isaksen added the buildings don't meet modern educational standards. He said they are in such bad shape it would not make sense from a cost perspective to try and restore them.
The new school would separate high school and middle school students, but it would also include common areas for students to interact.
"It's a great opportunity for some of the students to work off of each other and learn from each other," he said.
The design for the new school, which will be known as the Tyner Middle High Academy, is slated to be completed by fall.
Last year, 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 county commission at August meetings.
School board chair Tucker McClendon of East Ridge said in a Wednesday phone interview the condition of the two schools is the worst in the county.
"Those students in that community deserve a state-of-the-art facility, and that's what they're getting," McClendon said.
A 2019 facilities report from MGT Consulting Group rated Tyner High School at 57% for weighted building condition score and 16% for grounds score, while Tyner Middle School earned a 47% weighted building condition score and 39% grounds score, ranking them second and third in the county.
Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts was rated the worst, but that will no longer be the case with the opening of a new campus on the site of Lakeside Academy in August, McClendon said.
Contact Logan Hullinger by phone at 814-319-5158 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.