published Friday, June 15th, 2012

New Ooltewah Elementary School gains approval

A new Ooltewah Elementary School received final approval Thursday, but not before Hamilton County commissioners questioned school officials about any possible surprises in the deal.

Hickory Construction from Alcoa, Tenn., can begin the school, located on Ooltewah-Georgetown Road, after commissioners unanimously approved the company's $21.45 million bid.

The Board of Education approved the selection earlier this week.

If Hickory finishes the school before Hamilton County Schools' 2013 start date in August, it is eligible for a $545,000 bonus.

Before the vote, Commissioner Joe Graham asked Assistant School Superintendent Gary Waters and Superintendent Rick Smith if they'd fully presented the agreement.

"Is there anything we're missing here that we're going to find out in the newspaper or the news?" Graham asked.

"No sir," Smith said from the rear of the room.

Some commissioners are still angry that they only learned about a proposed three-way land swap that involved another elementary school site, the city of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Housing Authority from a member of Chattanooga City Council and the Times Free Press.

The new Ooltewah Elementary School will house about 1,100 students, with nine classrooms in kindergarten through third grade and eight in both fourth and fifth grades, Waters said.

After a question from Commissioner Fred Skillern, Waters calculated that the cost per square foot will be about $34 more than the most recently completed elementary school in East Ridge.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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