published Monday, October 10th, 2011

Hamilton County Schools make wish list for building projects

Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry
Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Phase I

• $22 million -- Replace East Brainerd Elementary to alleviate overcrowding at current East Brainerd and Westview elementaries

• $23 million -- Replace Ooltewah Elementary to ease overcrowding at current school plus Snow Hill and Wallace A. Smith

• $4.8 million -- Snowhill Elementary addition and renovation (amount could increase if mechanical work is replaced)

• $4.5 million -- Wolftever Elementary addition and renovation (amount could increase if mechanical work is replaced)

• $2.2 million -- Nolan Elementary addition

• $10.5 million -- Sale Creek Middle/High addition to relieve overcrowding; should consider new school

Total: $67 million

Phase II

• $46 million -- CSLA replacement school; convert to K-12

• $23 million -- Replacement school to relieve crowding at Ganns Middle Valley and Falling Water elementaries

• $23 million -- School to replace Harrison and Hillcrest elementaries; zone portion of Lakeside Elementary

• $9.5 million -- Soddy Middle renovation and addition

• $3.5 million -- Lakeside Elementary renovation

Total: $105 million

Phase III

• $38 million -- New middle school in East Brainerd/Apison

• $25.5 million -- New school to replace Alpine Crest, Dupont and Rivermont elementaries

• $11.5 million -- New gym and classroom addition at Central High School

• Unknown -- Signal Mountain Middle/High School addition

Total: $75 million

Total all phases: $247 million

• The plan includes only staff recommendations; the school board has yet to vote on it.

Source: Hamilton County Department of Education

Hamilton County Schools leaders have made a wish list of $247 million in building projects.

Officials circulated a list of their recommendations to school board members Thursday, but it's only in the very early stages. The facilities plan -- which comes in three phases -- hasn't been voted on by school board members or moved to the County Commission, which oversees the school district's budget.

"At this point, this is just a list of staff recommendations," said Gary Waters, assistant superintendent of auxiliary services.

Along with school additions and remodeling, the list includes several new elementary schools on the county's east side, including replacements for Ooltewah and East Brainerd elementaries and a new Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts.

Superintendent Rick Smith has said a new K-12 CSLA building could help alleviate overcrowding at the current K-8 school at 6579 East Brainerd Road.

A new school at CSLA's current location also could open up more spaces at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, which now takes in many CSLA students. CSAS serves grades kindergarten through 12.

The CSLA project is projected to cost $46 million.

A new East Brainerd Elementary would alleviate overcrowding Westview Elementary, while Harrison and Hillcrest elementaries would be consolidated into one building. And Alpine Crest, Dupont and Rivermont elementaries would be closed to make way for a new, larger school to serve students from all three.

"We're moving toward much larger elementary schools," Waters said.

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry said the body has yet to discuss the facility plan. But he said he thinks commissioners will be receptive to the plan's three phases.

"I think the plan is a good plan," he said. "I think it's viable and doable."

Henry said the county's east side is in "dire need" of another elementary school to ease overcrowding brought by growth.

"I wish we already had some of these things in place, to tell you the truth," he said.

He said the county likely would be able to fund school building projects once existing bonds mature in 2012. Still, the commission hasn't committed to any of the projects.

"I'm only one of nine on the commission. So there could be some reservations," Henry said. "We will look very closely at it."

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about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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