published Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

School makeup days not required

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County schools will not have to make up this week’s closing because of last week’s tornadoes.

Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel told the county school board Tuesday that he received confirmation from the state assistant education commissioner that makeup days would not be required.

Because of storms over the winter, the school system was already out of snow days for the year when storms struck April 27.

County schools are closed this week as roads continue to be cleared of debris.

“If you live in the city, you may not understand the conditions we still have on some of our roads,” McDaniel said.

Blue Springs and Michigan Avenue Elementary schools were heavily damaged by tornadoes. When schools open next week, Blue Springs students will be at Waterville Community Elementary School for the remainder of the year. Michigan Avenue students will be in 30 classrooms at First Baptist Church on Stuart Road.

The state also has granted a waiver on student numbers per classroom for the remaining weeks of the school year, McDaniel said. With the addition of the Blue Springs students, some Waterville classrooms will be over the state’s Basic Education Program limits.

The board also received $50,000 to help with tornado cleanup at the schools while the system’s architect and others continue to study the system’s buildings.

The money was given by representatives of the Tennessee Risk Management Trust, an insurance pool paid into by 101 school systems across the state.

Board Chairman Troy Weathers said the future of Blue Springs remains in doubt. The 50-year-old school was not built to today’s standards, he said, and insurance may reimburse the system only up to the school’s previous limits.

If the school is renovated to match its conditions a week ago before the tornadoes, “we are not sure it’s safe enough for our students if a storm came in the middle of the day,” Weathers said.

The final decision, Weathers said, will depend on the insurance estimates for rebuilding.

Tuesday’s work session was called so the board could receive the school system’s proposed general fund budget for 2011-12. The board will vote on the budget on Tuesday, May 10.

The total general purpose school fund budget being proposed is a little more than $63.2 million with $21.3 million from local appropriations, $41.5 million from state funds and $380,000 from federal funds.

Budget Director Rick Smith said the budget does not include programs funded entirely by the federal government.

“This budget reflects an increase of 3 percent over the 2010-11 budget, with revenue growth primarily concentrated in local sales tax and state BEP funding,” Smith said.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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